Biosphere II Master Plan





Project Description

Ecologically sensitive site planning and construction make this a truly sustainable college campus master plan.

In 1996, Columbia University asked the design team to prepare a master site plan for a new campus. This long-range development plan addressed the needs of students, staff and researchers, as well as 250,000 visitors per year. The project required modification of all existing facilities to meet ADA Accessibility Guidelines, and the construction of new buildings was planned so the facility would accommodate greatly increased public use, as well as, a large increase in those studying and working at the new campus.

The design team capitalized on an attractive desert setting by incorporating the surrounding landscape into the educational programs offered by Columbia. The plan provides facilities for 400 students, 40 researchers, associated staff and support personnel, reconfiguring parking and providing more convenient visitor access to public areas.

One of the first projects in the master plan was to provide housing for 100 students. The design used a proto-typical housing unit, planned in clusters around a central, shaded courtyard to respond to the demanding desert climate. Sited on a hill overlooking a natural wash, the clusters were arranged to take full advantage of solar orientation, water harvesting and natural wind patterns. In addition, each cluster included agricultural plots where students could experiment with and study sustainable living in a desert environment.