By Elizabeth McGuire
In an industry whose mission is to bring beauty and nature into communities, landscape company Clean Scapes stands out, and is leaving its green thumbprint on parks all over Austin.
This award-winning company has become a devoted collaborator and supporter of Austin Parks Foundation. Clean Scapes is one of APF’s highest corporate sponsors, and this year alone is donating $25,000 to celebrate the organization’s 25th anniversary.
Clean Scapes has a history of working on iconic Austin parks such as Zilker and Vic Mathias Auditorium Shores, including the 2015 Auditorium Shores renovation that garnered them an Urban Land Institute Impact Award. The company is currently rebuilding downtown’s Republic Square Park—a $5.8 million project coordinated by APF, PARD and Downtown Austin Alliance and scheduled for completion this summer.
When Republic Square reopens, the historic park (it was one of four original downtown parks designated in 1839) will have improved and expanded amenities for the community.
George Lindenberg, principal of Clean Scapes, described the renovation as a perfect blend of beauty and utility.
“One thing about Austin parks is that they are truly used by the public,” he said. “It’s one thing to be able to make a space look nice, but what I appreciate with this project is the opportunity to make something both beautiful and purposeful.”
The new design is based around a circular promenade that connects pedestrians to all four corners of the park and provides a flexible, central lawn for activities. Regional materials have been used for the hardscape, which was inspired by the layering of local creeks and waterways. There will be a permanent food kiosk and public restrooms, along with improved space for the popular SFC Farmers’ Market.
A long, curved retaining wall will double as seating, and ADA-compliant pathways will be lined with even more gathering spots. Numerous trees and plants will be added throughout the park. On the northern end of the park will be a new public art piece that honors the contributions and history of Mexican Americans in the area. Designed by Kincannon Studios, the “Blackbird” sculpture is made of a coated limestone and was inspired by Oaxacan clay pottery.
Along with the visible changes, there are underground innovations worth noting. As Lindenberg explained, all the new trees in the hardscape area of the park will be planted using a technique that helps trees flourish in a difficult urban environment. This unique Silva Cell system protects the roots from the surrounding concrete and gives them more room to grow.
The project’s budget couldn’t cover the cost of the Silva Cells, so Clean Scapes donated the necessary labor, management and equipment.
“It will be a very interesting case study to see how these trees perform relative to other trees planted downtown, none of which have Silva Cells,” said Lindenberg. “I think we will see a monumental difference.”
Of the thousands of necessary decisions a large-scale project like this requires, Lindenberg says the easiest one is whether to support APF.
“We are huge fans of APF and what they do,” he said. “We feel that Austin’s park system is vital to the city and part of what sets Austin apart from the rest of the country. I can’t say enough great things about all the organizations involved with the Republic renovation. I’m proud to be a part of this. I can bring my kids—maybe grandkids—by and be able to tell them I helped build this. That feels great.”
People Plus Parks is a series featuring the people behind the work we’re doing in Austin’s parks. Check out the “People + Parks” category for more.