Unity Courtyard Design is a Collaboration with UDel Students

This courtyard design by Betty McCarron will be installed in spring, 2014

This courtyard design by Betty McCarron will be installed in spring, 2014. Click to enlarge.

Click to follow the courtyard progress in our photo gallery!


True to its commitment to community engagement and education, Unity Animal Hospital has begun work with University of Delaware students to design and create the hospital’s courtyard.  The idea was hatched by Unity veterinarian Kathy Trow and her friend, landscape designer and professor, Jules Bruck.  The courtyard space, which runs along the Providence Road side of the hospital, is intended to provide a beautiful and peaceful space for clients and their pets.  Dr. Bruck believed this would be a perfect design project for her beginning landscape design class at University of Delaware 

Unity Community is the theme generated by one of 35 UD students who created landscape designs for Unity Animal Hospital.  The students spent four weeks during the fall semester planning the project, and the landscaping will be performed during the spring semester.  The students initially were introduced to the site and the client during an in-class brief, but it was during studio time that the ideas started to flow.  A brainstorming session helped students think of creative ways to divide the space and generate distinct themes.  “They generated so many fun and entertaining themes, from modern to meditative spaces,” says Bruck.  “Once students have a strong theme, they start to really own the project and consider how they could make a personalized space for the client.”

Because the class is offered as part of the University of Delaware’s general education requirements, students from all over the university participated, bringing diversity and a different perspective to each project.  “We had several pre-vet majors taking the class, which added to our level of understanding of what the pets, technicians, and vets would want out of an outdoor space,” explains Bruck.

In the end, most students focused on creating an inviting, private, and safe space.  All of the designs included fences to keep the pets away from Providence Road.  Betty McCarron, a continuing education student and professional gardener, created one of the most successful designs and the one that the Unity staff selected for installation.  Bruck explains, “Betty really considered ways to divide the space creatively.  She also made the extra effort to visit the site, which gave her a better understanding of the space than her classmates who had to rely on photographs.”

Betty’s design goal was to enhance the street side of the building to show off the front facade and give it great curb appeal and a natural setting.  “Plantings that are visible from the street are reminiscent of the library landscape across the street,” explains Betty.  “The plants along the front of the hospital invite the eye to the front door but are arranged to block physical access from the street.  The owners and dogs can stroll along the mossy-mulched paths and rest on the wood benches.”

Designers have to make difficult decisions working to balance clients’ tastes and needs with the site and elements of environmental sustainability.  Betty chose to remove one existing, mature tree in order to introduce more light and air circulation.  However, she suggested that the tree be sliced into two-inch sections and used as a substrate for more moss.  “Moss can be collected from friends’ gardens and glued to one side of each section.  The mossy sections can then be placed in the Unity Community Garden wherever moss is desired.”

Dr. Trow is thrilled by the designs.  “It was so fun to work with Jules and her students.  We can’t wait for the garden to be installed this spring and to share the space with the rest of the Unity community.”

To follow the progress of the construction of Unity Animal Hospital, including the courtyard, check out the photo gallery on our website.

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