ODOT Rest Areas Landscape Design Manual

2020 Winner – Landscape Architecture

Project Narrative

Governor DeWine and ODOT created a sustainable program to transform Ohio’s 45 interstate highway visitor centers. These centers will feature native landscapes, parklike settings, new safety protocols, easy maintenance, energy-conserving buildings, and provide native plant education to travelers and tourists passing through Ohio. The manual is the first of its kind in the United States. It guides consultant landscape architects and A/E teams to this new vision for site design and landscape standards.

• Create native landscapes to exemplify Ohio’s five physiographic regions
• Use sustainable and regenerative plants
• Elevate safe solutions throughout site and building areas
• Create unique, park-like, arboretum settings as environmental educational places for travelers
• Design for ease of maintenance

Key Elements
• Design manual for safe and attractive visitor centers
• Design process checklist
• Prototype visitor center site and landscape design
• Native plant reference list for: trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses – 120 plants
• Regional analysis for Ohio Native plant characteristics: salt, shade, sun, and soils

The American highway movement responded to many issues; commerce, travel needs, automobile technology advances and romance of exploring the “Great American Landscape”. The 1920’s roadside rest stops were transformed into Safety Rest Areas beginning in 1956. Ohio created the first U.S. interstate rest area in 1959. Ohio’s highway visitor centers will be transformed into safe and sustainable settings with guidance in the landscape manual. This manual will set a new sustainable standard for Departments of Transportation across the United States.


Project Details