Swinerton In the News

Swinerton Builders San Diego: July 03, 2014

San Diego Stormwater Strategies

“It never rains in Southern California,” songwriters Albert Hammond and Mike Hazelwood wrote in 1972. Water is a scarce resource in the coastal desert landscape and climate of San Diego, but when it does rain, it is both dramatic and fleeting.

Innovative site design at the University of California, San Diego’s new Charles David Keeling Apartments for second-year residents established an elegant system to capture this fickle natural resource and increase campus sustainability. Named for famed oceanographer Roger Revelle, who was instrumental in founding the university, Revelle College at UC San Diego already had a propensity for eco-friendly practices.

Aptly, the new housing earned its name after rigorous scrutiny by the family of Dr. Charles David Keeling, a Scripps scientist and Revelle College professor, who first alerted the world to the possibility of the human impact on global atmospheric carbon. The new apartment facilities brought displaced students who had to live in other colleges’ housing units back to their own campus, creating a space for both learning and living.

The university hired Spurlock Poirier Landscape Architects, along with Kieran Timberlake Architecture, to lead the project. Kieran Timberlake designed the 500-bed student dormitory, and Spurlock Poirier was responsible for site planning and open space programming, from the early stages of the project through construction administration.

As a result of the project’s environmental efforts, the Keeling Apartments achieved LEED-NC Platinum certification from the United States Green Building Council in 2012, and is the first LEED Platinum student housing in the University of California system.

Site Planning Challenges and Solutions
The 158,000-square-foot site is situated at the western edge of the La Jolla mesa, a coastal ridge 400 feet above the Pacific Ocean. Once covered by native coastal sage scrub, the area was planted with eucalyptus groves in the early 1900s. With providential views of the California coastline, the Keeling Apartments site helps define the southwestern gateway to the campus. Importantly, the project is also at the low end of the campus stormwater system, and just above the fragile ecosystem of the Skeleton Canyon outfall to the Pacific Ocean. The project’s relationship to this broader system became the most influential aspect of the site design.

Revealing, Reusing and Conserving Water
Water is a scarce resource in Southern California and requires significant energy to transport from distant sources. Conservation measures incorporated in the Keeling Apartments project include water efficient landscaping, efficient plumbing fixtures and on-site wastewater recycling.

Resident Response
The environmental elements of the project, including the vegetated roof, gray-water irrigation, stormwater infiltration and native plants, enhance student life through everyday engagement with natural processes. The Keeling Apartments encourage occupants to actively use the outdoor space, as students now have many areas conducive to gathering. For example, the event area was designed to include an outdoor barbecue, flexible spaces and two basketball courts.

Industry Response
In addition to its LEED certification, the project was named one of the Top Ten Green Projects by American Institute of Architects and its Committee on the Environment; earned the coveted President’s Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects, San Diego Chapter; and won an American Society of Civil Engineer award of merit in sustainable technology.

Team List
Client: University of California, San Diego
Architect: Kieran Timberlake Architecture
Civil Engineer: Nasland Engineering
Construction Manager: Swinerton Builders
Cost Estimating: International Consultants, Inc.
Electrical Engineer: Sparling
Environmental Consultant: Atelier Ten
Landscape Architect: Spurlock Poirier Landscape Architects
Lighting Consultant: Candela
Mechanical, Plumbing & Fire Protection: IBE Consulting Engineers
Photographer: Tim Griffith
Specifications Consultant: Technical Resources Consultant Inc. (TRC)
Structural Engineer: John A. Martin & Associates

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