The Betty and Clint Josey Pavilion
With aspirations to be the first Living Building project in Texas, this 5,400-square-foot open-air pavilion is an education and meeting center that serves as a demonstration site for the Dixon Water Foundation. The project physically embodies their mission to promote healthy watersheds through sustainable land management, ensuring the preservation of our water resources.
The building’s simple, low lying forms speak to the surrounding native prairie as the pavilion works in concert with nature. The complex consists of two similarly scaled buildings connected by a shady porch; one includes a herbarium, restroom and kitchen, while the other houses a multi-purpose space for education events. Designed to be flexible and adapt to climatic conditions year round, the structure captures cool breezes in summer and blocks cold winter winds. The structure’s deep overhangs and existing heritage Live Oak provide shade and shelter in the central gathering space. Gapped wood doors can be opened to allow maximum ventilation through the central gathering space and along the porches. The rooftop cupola provides daylight for the central pavilion while also drawing hot air out.
Designed as a fully restorative Living Building, the project represents the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment. 100% of wastewater is treated onsite and returned to the natural water cycle. At least 100% of the energy used is produced by solar panels and testing has confirmed that indoor air quality is almost indistinguishable from surrounding outdoor fresh air. Only building materials that have a low environmental impact and no adverse effects to human health were used in the entire project. Natural materials and human scaled spaces create a tranquil environment that connects people with the landscape in a holistic, non-intrusive way that supports the Foundation’s mission.
When the Dixon Water Foundation clients approached us to design their new education pavilion, they did not come to us asking for a Living Building. They had never heard of the Living Building Challenge; however, the mission of the foundation is to demonstrate how cattle can be a part of a healthy ecosystem and the client saw a Living Building as an opportunity to strengthen their message by providing an educational venue that seeks to achieve the same ecological equilibrium as their range management program.
Our initial scope of work was to design and provide construction documents for an open air pavilion that could be reasonably comfortable year around and easily adapt to a variation of climatic conditions. We knew that if this project could achieve Living Building status by being net zero energy, net zero water, and achieving the stringent material requirement (among other things), the building would support and strengthen the Dixon Water Foundation message by increasing the number of people exposed to the great work they are doing to promote holistic land management. Pursuing Living Building status would obviously increase hard and soft costs to the project. In order to reduce the burden of these costs, Lake|Flato offered to count the hours worked on the Living Building Challenge research and documentation toward our 1% efforts, which meant that the primary increased costs to the owner were for the photovoltaic array and the constructed wetland blackwater treatment system.
The Dixon Water Foundation now has a venue to host local ranchers, school children, and college students to discuss the value of our native prairie and how properly managed land can protect our watershed. While there, these groups will also learn about green building, passive strategies for heating and cooling, and how a constructed wetland works because of the informational signage we composed as part of our 1% contribution.