Faced with a fast turnaround time, Michigan-based Miller Landscape was able to complete an extensive courtyard project at a local college that was several years in the making and featuring a design inspired by the writings of a 1929 graduate.
Administrators from Marygrove College, a small college located in Detroit, wanted to see the renovation of a central courtyard that would be a comfortable gathering area for students and faculty. Financing this space was an issue, however, as design and construction estimates done roughly four years ago put the price tag at more than $400,000.
Gift Saves Project
As a result of the high cost, the project was shelved. The courtyard project was revisited after a 1929 graduate of the college, Elizabeth Clinton Keenan, bequeathed more than $4 million to the college upon her death. Approximately $225,000 of that gift was earmarked for the courtyard project.
A college board member had worked with Miller Landscape in the past and contacted the company about the courtyard. As it turned out, only two companies competed for the project.
Kathy Miller of Miller Landscape Inc. used the software to design a plan for the courtyard, and this visual representation of the finished product helped the company win the contract.
''The 3D presentation was key to our success in winning this contract. We brought a 24 x 36 colored plan view of the courtyard for ‘back up' but the board asked all of their questions and reviewed all of the details while reviewing the 3D movie.'' she said. ''They were highly impressed and told us later that we had set ourselves high above our competition by being able to let the virtually see what we were proposing.''
Miller added, ''One of the members of the board is very computer savvy and produces a lot of marketing pieces and videos. He was particularly excited about the movie because they added it to their website immediately and it was instrumental in their efforts to get the alumni, students and staff excited about the project.''
The finished project closely resembles the software rendering of the space. Brussels Block pavers in a limestone/sandstone blend were used for the courtyard and Black quartz basalt was used for the rings.
Miller Landscape presented the design to the board on June 28. The contract was awarded on July 5, with the condition that it would be completed by midnight on Sept. 14 for unveiling the following day during homecoming activities.
''Our project managers looked at the site prior to awarding of the contract,'' Bill Miller of Miller Landscape Inc. said.
He said the project managers assured him and college officials that the project could be completed on time.
''There were stipulations in the contract so no one could dilly-dally,'' he said.
The total area of the courtyard is approximately 11,000 square feet. A little more than half of the space, formerly grassy areas, was renovated to include paver areas and a central fountain.
The image above and two images below are from a VisionScape Software design of the Marygrove College courtyard space helped Miller Landscape Inc. win the contract for installing the courtyard. Miller Landscape used images from the software to make a 3D movie that was shown to college officials to illustrate their proposed plan for the space. During the presentation to college officials, the board asked all of their questions and reviewed all of the details while reviewing the 3D movie. Miller officials used these images to communicate the precise details of the rock formations, etc. to their installation crews. Photo courtesy of Miller Landscape Inc./VisionScape Software
The Unilock hardscapes include Brussels Block pavers in a limestone/sandstone blend, colors that match the surrounding buildings. Black quartz basalt rings are included in the design to mimic the rippling water that Keenan noted in her writings. The color matches the roof color of the surrounding buildings.
Bill Miller said upon beginning the project, everything in the courtyard except for major trees was removed. Dedicated gardens that had been in the courtyard were moved to other sites on campus.
''This blank canvas made the whole project workable,'' he said, adding that the large trees that were not moved were pruned prior to construction to give his crew more room to work.
The project included the installation of an irrigation system and electrical work for the fountains. More than 200 yards of soil was excavated out to allow for the installation of the hardscapes. The site includes a rock formation featuring a 9,000-pound boulder.
All of the pavers were installed by hand as the site was too small to accommodate machinery. The average size of the crew was five to eight workers, with some days featuring as few as two and as many as 12.
Miller said a great working relationship with college officials and detailed stipulations in the contract resulted in a project that was completed on time.