Following a year-long renovation of the historic infirmary, “this formerly abandoned, nearly 90-year-old facility is now a showcase for responsible, collaborative green building,” according to Pitzer College leaders. This month, the Robert Redford Conservancy (RRC) for Southern California Sustainability has received LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The project also stabilized and adapted the surrounding 12 acres for the Conservancy’s use in promoting its mission of sustainability. The project is also well underway on the 12 month monitoring period to show that the building will achieve Net Zero Energy certification.
The project also enriched the landscape around the building site (using drought tolerant indigenous plantings) to provide the minimum paving area for fire/service access and created a natural walking path from the south site entrance through the 12 acre Pitzer site that is adjacent to the Bernard Field Station (for biological research). Both the building renovation and site landscaping approach now offers the Southern California region a fabulous demonstration project that promotes the Conservancy’s mission of sustainability.
In keeping with Pitzer College’s commitment to environmental sustainability and remarkable record of supporting environmental causes, the adaptive reuse of this former infirmary building aimed to house both the Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability (RRC) and Bernard Field Station offices, and Pitzer academic science classrooms, laboratories, meeting rooms, and art studio. Starting with a thorough assessment of the site and building and client engagement efforts including tours, discussions, group and one-on-one interviews, visioning workshops, and presentations, the design team translated the needs and wants of the project into an innovative design which developed into a beautiful new setting to study and teach sustainable practices.
Development of the program planning emphasized natural and low-impact design. The team emphasized the desire to reach far beyond the metrics of energy and water in order to reach the full potential of the project’s sustainability. Through a collection of passive and active mechanical and electrical strategies aimed at optimizing thermal comfort, operational flexibility, and aesthetic sensibility, the inherently passive design and extensive natural landscape of the completed RRC make it a destination which recognizes the past, educates about the present, and fosters collaborative learning across disciplines in a dynamic space for the future.