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The cover of the Spring 2007 SF State Magazine features two penguins, heads bent together as they view their offspring on the ground below.

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Three photos: First showing green trees and grass, second large  boulders and green shrubbery on the campus "Garden of Remembrance," finally, and  a wind chime floats in the breeze, providing an audible navigation clue for visitors to campus.

More than a Pretty Campus

The secret is out nationwide. There is a lush oasis of greenery within the perimeters of SF State -- a landscape whose beauty rivals that of any urban campus.

SF State received the Green Star Award in 2006 for best-maintained grounds of an urban university. One of two national awards presented by the Professional Grounds Management Society, the Green Star pays tribute to the skill and dedication of SF State's landscape and hardscape teams.

At 4 a.m., while most of the city sleeps, staff members clean SF State's many walkways and paved plazas. At 5:30 a.m. grounds crews swing into action, fixing sprinklers, mowing, planting and pruning.

In addition to leading the way in landscaping, SF State's Grounds Department, led by Director Phil Evans, is also gaining a reputation for its innovative work related to inclusive design. The latest example: wind chimes. Hung in strategic places across campus, the chimes serve as non-visual navigation tools. Initiated by a visually impaired student, chimes signal major intersections, and their metallic jingle also offers a soothing sound amid the hectic rush to and from class.

Thanks to input from student focus groups organized by the Disability Programs and Resource Center, and assistance from sound engineers and specialists in orientation and wayfinding, a diverse variety of audible clues about the landscape will soon be heard on campus even when the wind isn't blowing. During the spring semester, Larry Klingenberg's engineering students rolled out a rugged, solar-powered device that plays a computerized recording of chimes and other sounds selected for clarity among the many competing noises of a busy urban campus. Mike Day, a senior in product design, managed the sound selection and design and fabrication of the attractive housings, which are being installed throughout the campus, creating a web of audible landmarks.

"SF State has a leadership position in making public spaces more inviting," says Evans, coauthor of "Accessible Landscapes, Designing for Inclusion," a textbook used nationwide. In 1990 he collaborated with design and industry faculty members Brian Donnelly and Robert Natata on a study that has led to such multipurpose campus enhancements as benches and study tables that have sliding seats and elevating tabletops -- to better serve the diversity of users in a busy public campus.


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Last modified June 19, 2007, by the Office of Public Affairs and Publications