Zucker Hillside Hospital: Commercial Landscape Overhaul
Robert Rodler started working at Hillside Hospital before Goldberg & Rodler even existed with J. J. Levison. Levison handed it over to Goldberg & Rodler in the early sixties and we did a ton of work there. Then we did bits and pieces here and there, sprays, tree work, etc. until 2009. The new facilities manager wanted the campus renovated and he contacted us. Maintenance had been getting progressively worse, to the point where the campus was covered in poison ivy, the original design was almost impossible to discern. You can still see the cherry trees, dogwoods and sycamores on the campus that we planted back in the 60’s but they were in desperate need of pruning. Limbs wider than a person’s leg were dropping dangerously to the ground. The baseball field, apple orchard and formal rose garden had been razed for additional parking as the facility grew. Increased paving was causing massive drainage issues. People would park anywhere they could find a spot, including on the grass, off the road in the woods, there were no curbs or barriers to prevent it. It was unrecognizable and a perfect example of how maintenance issues can affect more than the landscape. Employees and family member’s of patients were extremely unhappy. There was no place to eat or take a break, no place for people to sit, the gazebo was unsafely enclosed by overgrown plants, and one building was hidden behind overgrown yews.
Our first job was the poison ivy removal and pruning and removing hazards in the trees. People had been dumping garbage in the woods so our next task was to clean that up. We redesigned several areas, focusing on the core and most visible parts of the campus first. We fixed the drainage issues so they no longer had to pile sandbags in front of the doors (it isn’t recommended by health professionals to block hospital doors, in case of emergencies) or deal with a mosquito farm in a swampy lawn area. Many overgrown plantings needed pruning for security reasons, who wants to eat lunch completely enclosed on all sides so you can’t see who is approaching? We added curbs and boulders to the areas people were driving and parking in that were unpaved. We made elegant gravel shapes and used water tolerant plantings in areas where runoff collected.
We sited a lot of trees as part of the Million Trees Project in NYC’s boroughs. We redesigned outdoor recreation areas for the patients. We transplanted and relocated plants for the construction happening on the campus. We even installed fountains in the lobby with interior plants. Right now we’re working on designs for patients’ roof gardens and a parking lot to add more parking. It’s in Queens, there’s never any parking!