Alexandria, VA

Alexandria Renew Environmental Center

Manifesting Mission + Core Values Through Design

status

Completed 2016

client

Alexandria Renew Enterprises

expertise

Office + Corporate Campus

services

Landscape Architecture

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Leading By Example

This wastewater treatment facility headquarters is designed to highlight the value of clean water - inspiring visitors to conserve water and connect them to their local water system.

The Alexandria Renew Enterprises (AlexRenew) Environmental Center is the new headquarters for Alexandria’s advanced wastewater treatment facility. Serving 350,000 people in the City of Alexandria and part of Fairfax County, AlexRenew is a public agency that transforms wastewater into clean water to protect public health and the environment. Featuring biophilic design elements and interactive exhibits, the Environmental Center was envisioned as a community resource that enables AlexRenew to engage with the community and educate the public about the value of clean water.

After working together on several landscape architecture projects, AlexRenew contracted LandDesign to provide landscape architecture services for their new state-of-the-art, LEED Platinum-certified Environmental Center. As the organization’s main administration facility, the Environmental Center showcases AlexRenew’s core values of innovation and sustainability through building and site design.

Our Vision

Showcase Water Reclamation Through Biophilic Design

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Biophilic design elements inside and outside the building highlight one of AlexRenew’s key products: reclaimed water. At the main entrance, a cascading water fountain creates a gateway experience for the project and accentuates the building entrance. Drawing reclaimed water from the facility, the fountain cascades over the entryway and into a water table for calm reflection. Inside the lobby, a 2-story living green wall–irrigated by reclaimed water–is integrated into the building ventilation system, delivering filtered oxygen to the public spaces on the first two floors. The lobby also features a 6,000-gallon aquarium containing reclaimed water and fish indigenous to the Potomac River to re-create the Chesapeake Bay environment. These design elements express the value of clean water artistically, allowing occupants and visitors to visualize the impact of the water treatment process.

Surrounding the building are public park spaces, built above the facility’s parking garage, and a trail that will connect to the wider Alexandria trail network, further servicing the employees and greater Alexandria community. Adjacent to the Environmental Center is a synthetic turf athletic field for the City of Alexandria Parks and Recreation, built above the 18-million gallon Nutrient Management Facility holding tanks. The planting design for the site includes a native landscape that provides habitat for wildlife and reduces maintenance and environmental impact on the community. The Environmental Center offers tours to local schools and community groups to inspire visitors of all ages to practice water stewardship.

The Challenge

From Landfill to LEED Platinum

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The design team undertook a holistic design approach to realize the owner’s sustainability goals. Constructed on a former landfill, the site required mitigation and restoration prior to redevelopment. A methane venting system was installed to prevent the buildup of methane below the structure. To achieve LEED Platinum certification, the design team instituted several water conservation measures. Reclaimed water, used for toilets, cooling tower, irrigation, and the water fountain, resulted in a 97% reduction in potable water use–a volume equivalent to filling two Olympic-size swimming pools each year.

Our Approach

Water As a Design Resource

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Physical

Form a strong and identifiable streetscape presence that invites the community into the site

Functional

Combine water and artistic design to highlight facility’s innovative wastewater treatment process

Social

Provide opportunities for education through interaction with reclaimed water

Homepage Header

Physical

Form a strong and identifiable streetscape presence that invites the community into the site

Homepage Header

Functional

Combine water and artistic design to highlight facility’s innovative wastewater treatment process

Homepage Header

Social

Provide opportunities for education through interaction with reclaimed water