Site Description

The program for development of the project site, formerly used for agricultural row crops, was to restore it to pre-agricultural conditions. Central to the site’s development was stormwater management and the integration of bioswales and infiltration swales into the overall landscape. These elements form the basis for an interpretive, educational component running throughout the project.

The site retains stormwater onsite; landscaping in the bioswales filters, stores, and slows the flow of stormwater away from buildings and paved areas, reducing the ecological footprint of the project. Irrigation is used for plant establishment only, and is predominantly an efficient drip system, using recycled non-potable water. When irrigation is turned off, the habitat will become seasonal in its growth patterns.

Buildings and landscape screens shield exterior spaces from the prevailing cool ocean winds, creating desirable exterior spaces. Non-absorptive colors and materials were used in the landscape to complement the tree canopies that will reduce the heat island effect.

The project strives to create an ecologically diverse extension to the adjacent Pajaro River corridor in contrast to the surrounding agricultural monoculture. The plant palette is typical of that found in similar natural coastal terrace ecosystems.

  • Lot size: 202,331 ft2
  • Previously undeveloped land

Water Conservation & Use

Whenever possible, the project reveals an underlying focus of the design on water as a finite, invaluable resource, tied to energy use and the resource-intensive processes of providing potable water.

In occupied spaces, water flows through radiant tubes underneath the floors to provide heating and cooling. Rainwater flows from eaves, down rain chains, into swales and then is carried to retention basis where it is detained and treated prior to infiltrating the groundwater system. Native and drought-tolerant plantings, requiring less than 70% of typical water usage, are watered only when recycled water is available. To further display water as a seasonal resource connected to the local agricultural growing season, water is supplied to a tiled water feature only when recycled water is available to the site.

These water conservation strategies help reduce potable water consumption by 50%; help achieve energy-efficiency targets that exceed ASHRAE 90.1 by 76%; and reduce the need for energy-intensive water transport, lowering the building’s overall carbon footprint.

Green Strategies

  • Ecosystem Restoration
    • Replant damaged sites with native vegetation
  • Runoff Reduction
    • Use planted swales instead of curbs and gutters
  • Water Conservation Education
    • Educate residents about water conservation
  • Landscape Plantings
    • Landscape with indigenous vegetation
  • Managing Stormwater
    • Contour slopes for reduced runoff
  • Rainwater Collection
    • Collect and store rainwater for landscape irrigation
  • Demand for Irrigation
    • Select plants for drought tolerance
    • Use water-efficient irrigation fixtures