Creating Places for Memories and Meaning.

In 2023, EPTDESIGN stepped back from the day-to-day running of our business to explore the greater purpose of our work. We asked ourselves questions like, “What are we in business to do? What makes the work we do meaningful to us, our clients, and the people who encounter the places we design? What inspires us and those we serve? What makes our work satisfying and how does it benefit others?”

Through ideation, brainstorming, collaboration, and wordsmithing, we developed a Position Statement that defines who we are, what we do, for whom, and for what benefit, as follows:

EPTDESIGN curates landscapes where memorable moments and meaningful experiences unfold.

From public spaces to private gardens, we reveal the stories of place, care for the environment, and nurture well-being through design.

Throughout 2024, we’ll be sharing blog posts that illuminate the purpose behind our work, offering examples of memorable moments and meaningful experiences, about stories of place, caring for the environment, and nurturing well-being through design.

What Do We Mean By “Curating Landscape?”

To begin, we’d like to share what we mean by “curating landscape.”

According to Google, to “curate” means: “select, organize, and present (online content, merchandise, information, etc.), typically using professional or expert knowledge.”

According to Webster’s Dictionary, to curate means—

  • to select (the best or most appropriate) especially for presentation, distribution, or publication.
  • to select and organize (artistic works) for presentation in (something, such as an exhibit, show, or program),
  • to select and organize (articles, images, etc.) for distribution or publication.
  • to select and bring together (people or groups) for a purpose that is dependent on the skills or talents of the members.

From our perspective, curating a landscape design begins by understanding our client’s goals, their vision, and their aspirations. We respond by crafting ideas for how people will navigate a place. We select materials and plants, determine palette and wayfinding. We research the history of place and design so that the origin stories are preserved and honored. And we create places and spaces for contemplation, recreation, and relaxation. Places that are durable, maintainable, and lasting.

When we are successful, people encounter special places where meaningful memories unfold. When done right, our designs guide people intuitively through layers of spaces, through outdoor rooms, places where information is presented which grounds the visitor in the experience.

Creating A Community Park While Honoring the Historic Reeder Ranch
Montclair, California

“The Reeder Ranch is a unique remnant of a bygone era providing a rare opportunity to help the general public learn about and better understand Southern California’s past and the profound ways in which the citrus industry shaped today’s California.”

George C. and Hazel H. Reeder Heritage Foundation

The Reeder Ranch was owned and occupied by the Reeder family for more than a century. It is a historic landmark recognized by the City of Montclair. In the heyday of the citrus industry blanketed the valleys of Southern California with citrus groves. Today, Reeder Ranch is one of only a dozen historic locations that remain. The site includes the original house, barn, ancillary structures and about 20 citrus trees that are approximately 100 years old. According to Adam Trujillo, Senior Associate, “The whole Southern California Valley was filled with citrus growers between Riverside and San Bernardino, all the way out to Pasadena and into Los Angeles. There just aren’t many ranches left that represent the history of this area booming in the 1930’s.”

The property was run through the George C. and Hazel H. Reeder Heritage Foundation. The City of Montclair now owns it. Through a grant, the city gathered public input which resulted in a desire to build a new community park with a 25,000-square-foot recreation building and research office.

Creating a Community Park

EPTDESIGN worked directly with the City of Montclair to incorporate feedback from their community outreach efforts. Together, we shared ideas about how the ranch and a 1-acre vacant lot next to the historic ranch and citrus grove could be transformed into a park for the community that would include outdoor space for performances, movie nights, natural playground areas, fitness equipment and public art.

The inspiration for the project was twofold. First, the Reeders and families like them, made up the fabric of Southern California before real estate and development began consuming the farms, so the park was designed to honor their pioneering ways, hard work, and dedication.

What’s more, the citrus grove consists of nearly twenty, 100-year-old trees that are still producing fruit. As designers, we took our cue from the grid of the grove in designing the site. We wanted to, in essence, bring the orchard into the park, so we chose a variety of connectors: a 23-foot grid based on the original tree grove spacing that created the framework of the site’s layout of the event lawn, playground, learning garden, fitness loop and pedestrian walkway that joins the ranch house property. The community recreation building, design by David Goodale, AIA, integrated natural materials, and while the design is modern, it is tied to the original house’s architecture through its gabled roof, wood siding, and zinc metal roof.

Activating the Space

Everything became about activating the park space. Recreational activities spill out from the recreation center into outdoor activities right outside the doors, such as an outdoor learning garden. An outdoor fitness area provides workout equipment and stations for adult recreation. A picnic area provides tables for creating art and dining. And just beyond that, the Earthscape playground equipment—which includes slides, ladders, swings, a mountain cabin, and a three-level timber tower—is easily accessible. Surrounding the park is a fitness loop, and the center of the park provides a flexible event space.

Curating the Landscape

When designing the landscape, we wanted the park to feel part of its geographic location, nestled below the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. We chose palettes that were natural, selected native trees and plants, and located Sycamore trees within a lawn panel that follows the spacing and rhythm of the historic citrus orchard. As a counterpoint, the playground has an informal Oak grove, creating a nice complement to the structured design. The remaining of the plant palette of shrubs and ground cover were chosen to reflect the historic story of Reeder Ranch as well offer an opportunity to teach students about the nearby chapparal flora.

Making New Memories

The park provides the City of Montclair with a much-needed green space that honors an important part of its history while providing residents today with opportunities to gather, recreate, and experience meaningful times together. The park is expected to open in summer 2024.

Merriam-Webster: America’s Most Trusted Dictionary
Reeder Ranch

Historic Images
Aerial view of Mt. Baldy — Calisphere
Reeder Ranch