At 5,130 Feet, Another New School in Erie is Underway

Last year we celebrated the groundbreaking for a new K8 school in Erie, Colorado for Boulder Valley School District.  This year, we’re celebrating the groundbreaking for another new PK8 school for St. Vrain School District.  This is a fast growing community and the competing school districts are busting at the seams to keep up with the influx of students.

Construction for the new PK-8 school started this spring with planned opening in fall 2018. The school location offers spectacular views of Longs Peak and the Indian Peaks.

Design of the school frames views towards Longs Peak. A specially designed “Surprise Area” offers a place for outdoor gathering inside a large quarter-circle plaza surrounded by a grass berm and shade trees.

Etched plaques representing the highest peaks on each continent will be embedded in the multi-colored decorative concrete plaza including:

  • Aconcagua – 22,841 feet
  • Denali – 20,310 feet
  • Elbrus – 18,510 feet
  • Everest – 29,029 feet
  • Gunnbjorn Fjeld – 12,119 feet
  • Puncak Jaya – 16,024 feet
  • Kilimanjaro – 19,341 feet
  • Kosciuszko – 7,310 feet
  • Longs Peak – 14,259 feet
  • Vinson Massif – 16,050 feet
  • Mont Blanc – 15,774 feet
  • Orizaba – 18,491 feet

And at the center of the plaza, the school’s elevation in Erie is included at 5,130 feet. Other site features include a tree-lined front entrance plaza with sandstone seating and gathering spaces, raised garden beds, a synthetic turf berm in the PK-K play area, and a stabilized-aggregate track and multipurpose field.

The Making of a Whimsical Wisdom Tree

Inspiration Playground Wisdom Tree Bellevue Washington inclusive play playground custom art sculpture 

It’s big, fantastical, otherworldly and whimsical!  And it’s designed to be the grand centerpiece in the imaginary fairytale-like setting of Inspiration Playground in Bellevue, Washington.  

This majestic fantasy-like tree is meticulously designed and meticulously fabricated collaboratively in the studios and workshops of Design Concepts and IDSculpture.

Loosely modeled from a giant cedar, the tree takes shape rising 24 feet tall high, with 10 and 12-foot spiraling gold branches, dotted with randomly placed light accents.

A Wise Old Face

Carving art and faces into trees is commonplace but always a great find when stumbled upon.  At Inspiration Playground, the face in the tree is artistically hand chiseled and carved. The face in the tree trunk is detailed and textured to look just like a subtly carved wood grain work of art, in this case, a wise old face.


What’s a whimsical tree without dramatic detail using fanciful lighting?! 10 strings of 204 ‘live node’ lights wind and weave around the branches to create a sensational visual appeal. The LED lights are programmable with variable colors, pulsing and contrast intensity.  A light show can be programmed to complement events, holidays, theme or season. At night, it will glow and pulse creating a whimsical sculpture cutting through a dark sky.

Meticulous Detail

From initial sketches and concepts that were imagined and created in the design studio of Design Concepts, the innovators and fabricators at IDSculpture were able to turn a concept into a constructible reality.  Every detail of the tree has an artistic touch. From the tip of a spiral to the nose on the wise old face, both conceptualizer and fabricator alike took great care in each of the smallest of detail.


In the shop, the artists, craftsmen and fabricators of IDSculpture brought to life from the fantasy world of creative design and imagination.  The tree is made of a propriety mix of concrete, PVC, rebar and steel.  Solid cast concrete is topped with a hand sculpted topcoat layer—this is the medium to create the design texture and features of a realistic tree.  Its base is anchored over 5 feet deep into the ground with reinforced concrete.

In the end, from idea, detail, artist or master craftsman, every part of the design and fabrication process highlights great innovators, idea-generators and collaborators.  And this was only possible in the beginning when a great collaboration between the City of Bellevue and Rotary Club of Bellevue came to be.

All in all, the great majestic Whimsical Wisdom Tree comes to life today!

Easy Ways To Celebrate Smart Irrigation Month

July is Smart Irrigation Month, and here are some easy and effective ways to improve your system.

Let's start with things your can purchase and easily install yourself.

  1. Drip irrigation - Drip systems do just that, they drip water out rather than spraying it through the air resulting in water loss.
  2. A rain sensor - This is a small device you can pick up at almost any home improvement store for just a few bucks. It shuts off your sprinklers when it senses rain. Pretty smart, right?
  3. A smart controller - This one's a little more elaborate, but highly effective. This, takes it to a level above a rain sensor. Smart controllers gather complete weather information from nearby weather stations. Not only do they shut off sprinklers when it's raining, they adjust the amount of water your system applies. If it only rains a little your controller knows how much more water to add to fill your plants' bellies.
  4. A pressure regulator - If you notice water misting from your sprinklers it's likely due to too much pressure. Having the proper pressure assures your sprinklers perform as they were designed. Your sprinklers should only be spraying tiny droplets of water into the air, not creating a foggy scene from a horror movie. 
  5. High efficiency nozzles - Different sprinkler types apply water in different ways. See if you can replace any of your heavier water using sprinklers with something more efficient, like a rotary stream nozzle. All sprinkler types can keep your plants healthy, so why not do so using less water?

Finally, let's go over some general principals to help you cut you water use

What Is Compost?

  1. Adding compost to your soil on an annual basis, or topdressing, improves soil quality and its ability to retain water. Learn more about compost in the video at the right from the article "What Is Compost".
  2. Avoid watering at the hottest times of the day, and run your sprinklers in the morning or evening. Makes sense, right?
  3. And last, ask around with your local agencies to see what kinds of rebates they offer for your effort. You may find that they will cover the costs of some of your efforts. 

Good luck watering smarter!