Freestanding walls add to the aesthetics of Las Vegas freeway

Case Studies
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When a landscape needed to look great but use no water at all, landscape architects had to get creative. And that’s exactly what the landscape architects from C.F. Shuler Inc. did when the Nevada DOT called on them to design the landscaping of 80 acres along 5 miles of freeway in Las Vegas. Redi-Rock freestanding walls became the focal point of this unique landscape.

Though the walls are typically found along roadways as retaining walls, bridge abutments or wing walls, landscape architects took advantage of the versatile design capabilities offered by the 1-ton blocks.

“As landscape architects, we try to design things that have a sense of place,” explained Carol Shuler, L.A and principal of C.F. Shuler Inc.

Shuler’s Arizona design firm specializes in southwestern landscapes and focused this project’s design on Native American basketry designs. “We kind of exploded the spiral basketry pattern and used it for the wall graphics along the freeway, and also incorporated it into the freestanding wall spirals in the intersection landscaping,” Shuler explained.

NDOT is very conscious of water usage, and asked Shuler to design the project without using any plants. With that in mind, Shuler knew she wanted to use earth graphics (placing different colored stones on the ground to create patterns) as part of the design, but she also wanted the landscape to be more three-dimensional.

“The freestanding blocks allowed us to build the two-sided walls we were going for, and the textures and colors had a similar look to the local red sandstone,” which was too cost-prohibitive to use on the project.

The walls Shuler designed ranged from 3 ft to 6 ft tall, but with each intersection measuring about 3.5 acres, the landscape still needed more height to have the visual impact Shuler wanted. So, she designed image panels made of layered wire fabrics. These panels followed the curves of the walls to create images such as a giant tortoise and a prickly pear cactus.

Installation of this project was challenging due to the tight radii and the design of each wall being different. The landscape architect’s design required that no daylight be visible through the walls, which meant that the installer needed to saw-cut the blocks. Jensen Precast was able to custom cast blocks for the project to reduce the amount of cutting required on each block.

In total, the project required 11,500 sq ft of freestanding walls, stained to match the native red sandstone.

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