by Pam Zubeck
William Guman & Associates, Ltd., a long-time Colorado Springs based landscape architecture and land planning firm, has been selected by the Veteran’s Administration as project landscape architect to develop construction documents for the long awaited National Cemetery to be constructed in El Paso County. Guman is part of the AES Group team that was awarded the primary contract to plan and design the cemetery. AES Group, Inc. is a certified service disabled veteran owned small business (SDVOSB) with primary offices in Parker, CO. Land planning for the new cemetery will be handled by The L.A. Group, PC, Saratoga Springs, NY, which has planned more than forty national cemeteries throughout the country.
Bill Guman, a licensed landscape architect, is pleased that there will be local representation on the National Cemetery’s consulting team hired by the VA.
“We think it was a wise decision for the VA to retain the services of prime consultants who are familiar with the unique requirements of our area,” said Guman. Design criteria for which the VA expressed much concern included long-term sustainability of the cemetery’s landscape. “The VA recognized that this region does not have the water resources that many other national cemeteries have to help keep them green for much of the year,” Guman said. He acknowledged that it will be challenging to design a drought tolerant landscape for the cemetery that is still attractive and in keeping with the National Cemetery Administration’s (NCA) design guidelines.
“There is an expectation for a national cemetery to always appear lush and manicured,” said Guman. “But Southern Colorado is a high plains desert and is obviously different than Arlington, Virginia” he added.
“The design team will be looking at xeric landscape alternatives that require far less water and care than acres of bluegrass lawn found in most national cemeteries.”
The El Paso County National Cemetery master plan will provide for up to for 125,000 grave sites across the 375 acre Rolling Hills Ranch property the VA purchased earlier this year. Schematic documents for approximately 50 acres of the property are being planned to support 10 year burial projections (approximately 15,300 gravesites) for the Phase 1 build out. The project will include pre-placed crypts, columbarium niches and in-ground cremains pre-placed urn crypts. The completed design will include a main entrance area, roadways, irrigation, utilities, landscaping, signage, committal service shelters, memorial walls, combined public information center and administration building, maintenance building complex, honor guard building, parking, public restrooms and temporary structures necessary to operationally support an early construction turnover of a limited number of gravesites. The VA’s estimated cost of construction for this project is between $28 million and $50 million dollars.
The project will be designed to LEED silver certified standards and meet all Federal Energy and Sustainability mandates. Planning and design of the new National Cemetery is anticipated to commence in December, with construction scheduled to begin in late 2015. Early turnover scheduling for Phase 1 should allow interments at the cemetery to commence in 2017. The National Cemetery’s Rolling Hills Ranch site is located on Drennan Road, approximately one-quarter mile east of Peterson Air Force Base and Marksheffel Road.