CASE STUDY / TOOELE TECH CAMPUS
A Model for Sustainable Outdoor Learning
How a beautiful college campus attracts and retains students and faculty.
The Tooele Technical College campus is reshaping the minds of local residents. As the first of many educational facilities in Utah State University’s 50 year regional campus master plan, Tooele Tech has provided the precedent for future buildings and landscapes in the area.
Loft Six Four was asked to be extra sensitive to water efficiency and native plant ecology. Our design seamlessly brought these elements together in ways that were creative, playful, and engaging to students, faculty, and the community at large.
The Utah ASLA Merit Award winning technical college campus features high sustainability within the greater context of the community. LEED Silver certified, the landscape saves more than 4 million gallons of water per year and uses four fifths less water than comparable institutional buildings in the neighborhood. A striking 80% of the landscape area has been preserved for low water use native grass meadow.
The design connects indoor programs harmoniously with the outdoor green spaces. This provides students with access to nature and facilitates better learning experiences. With opportunities to relax, exercise, and socialize, the outdoor campus spaces have elevated both the experience for students and the reputation of the educational institution.
Tooele (meaning “bear” in native Goshute) County is mostly covered by the Great Salt Lake Desert and is among the driest counties in the state. In modern times, the county has a history of toxic waste disposal and chemical and biological weapon testing that has contributed to a general perception of the county as a sacrifice zone for unwanted wastes.
The Utah State University regional campus in Tooele lies where the desert meets the mountains. It has the potential to educate the public and demonstrate the value of the native landscape. As the first of many campus projects, Tooele Tech set a new standard for thoughtful design, re-shaping perceptions of the land and ensuring that better practices endure.
The landscape design reflects existing native vegetation that is located beyond the site boundaries, while providing framed moments of unobstructed views of the mountains. The unparalleled beauty of the regional campus makes the choice to stay in the valley for education more attractive to prospective students.
“We chose to work with Loft Six Four primarily because they are great collaborators and specialize in contextual and creative design. They ask the right client and design team member questions to develop creative solutions. They are process driven and pull others into their process.”
W. Todd Kelsey / Method Studio
Collaboration is Key
Loft Six Four interfaced continually and closely with the architect and project stakeholders to ensure the building and site programming requirements were successfully integrated and reflected in the sequencing of site landscape and outdoor amenity spaces. The result was a space that students, faculty, and the community could appreciate and enjoy.
With open and productive communication with the civil engineer, our team ensured the design intent was maintained and that the elevations and grade challenges would serve to strengthen the design. Loft Six Four’s coordination with project stakeholders, facilities maintenance, and a native seeding consultant was also critical to achieving the desired result.The following description from architect Todd Kelsey outlines our involvement and impact.
“Method Studio was fortunate enough to team with Brandon Reed and Loft Six Four for the Tooele Technical College’s 74,000 sf 8.33 acre Main Campus Building project. Because the Technical College provides education with a focus on serving the immediate community’s workforce it was key that the design of the building and campus contextually blend with the surrounding Tooele community.
“We chose to work with Loft Six Four primarily because they are great collaborators and specialize in contextual and creative design. They ask the right client and design team member questions to develop creative solutions. They are process driven and pull others into their process, they examine the region, the natural surroundings both hard and soft scape, they research successful projects, call plant suppliers and local installers, they discuss precedent projects and engage the right team partners at the right time. Some of the people they included in their design process for the Tooele Technical College project were the President of the College, the campus Vice President, the senior administrative staff, the facility manager, board members and key community partners. When engaging these partners Loft Six Four was particularly effective by utilizing a range of skill sets to express design concepts, they blended technical and hand drawn line work to convey the right message at the right stage.
“Loft Six Four consistently brings great value to projects, their contextual design approach not only beautifully reacts to natural surroundings but also simultaneously meshes with the built environment. We have a long-standing successful relationship with the Technical College and have provided great services and brought great value to their projects. We have repeatedly worked on the campus, including current plans for a large expansion. Over the years we have heard time and time again how the staff, students and community partners enjoy coming and spending time on campus, and Loft Six Four’s design has played a large role in this success. The framing of the view corridors by the landscape pulls visitors in and directs people to key wayfinding points, it also highlights key building design features which hearken to community industries and education partners. Once inside, carefully coordinated windows with access to the landscape open up at the right time to focus views to local landmarks. By providing a place that has beauty that blends with the surrounding natural and built environment this site helps to attract and retain students and faculty. With the help of Loft Six Four I feel we have collectively given Tooele a design solution that reflects the community’s commitment to education, hard work and collaboration, but more importantly gives the community a place of pride, one that continually inspires students and visitors.”
At Loft Six Four, we practice sustainable landscape design – with an emphasis on marketability. We believe that unless the people love the space and endow it with cultural significance, any sustainable technology we use doesn’t matter.
We strive to design outdoor experiences that will endure and have lasting impact. Once there is a compelling design in place, we make sure best practices are employed to protect and enhance the environment.
Design for People
The purposeful minimalism expressed by our design demonstrates the importance of connecting architecture to landscape as a way to provide valuable experiences for people. Our studio has a people-centric approach. We focus on creating opportunities for people to connect to one another and to their environment.