Site Construction at Gilman Field / Notes and Images

After months or years of digital abstraction, witnessing a material’s properties in person is a wonderful learning opportunity built into the design and construction process.

The Tom Bates Regional Sports Complex in Berkeley, California – locally known as Gilman Fields – is undergoing a much-needed renovation of its two multi-use synthetic turf fields. Few materials laid out over acres creates a simple demonstration of a material’s interaction with local conditions.

Building this knowledge can contribute to a better landscape practice and landscape performance.

For example, synthetic turf carpet shrinks and expands in response to temperature. In the early morning of a worker’s day, the synthetic turf carpet is rolled out across the field. As the sun passes overhead, the carpet heats and expands. This produces subtle ripples across the field. Night temperatures dip into the 30’s and the carpet tightens again.

Thoughtful timing saves resources. Expansion and tightening would continue if it weren’t for sand infill working as a ballast and nails. In the early morning, sand infill is added on top of the carpet at its tightest. The carpet is nailed at its most expanded in afternoon heat.

Below are images from the past two months of construction.

The field's old synthetic turf rolled up for recycling.
A percolation test studies the quality of site drainage.
Installation of striping material.
Striping almost complete.
In contrast, a worn goal post shows years of play.
Natural grass and synthetic turf neighbors.

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