Sunnylands | Administration Campus

Rancho Mirage, CA

A new campus environment supporting the mission of Sunnylands as a living laboratory and leader in responsible desert development.

The new Administration Campus creates spaces for community and spontaneous interactions among Sunnylands’ administrative, archive, maintenance and operations staff, within one shared environment that manifests Sunnylands’ identity. In planning the Administration Campus, efforts toward water conservation and resource management across the entire property were assessed. Methods the new campus could support were identified to further Sunnylands’ key leadership in setting ambitious goals for water use reduction, net-zero energy use, net-zero carbon footprint, and zero-landfill waste through management of construction and operations by-products.

For the Administration Campus, an annual landscape water budget for post-establishment irrigation was set by calculating the amount of water that falls on the campus’s footprint in one year. After establishment, the campus’s water budget will be approximately 10% of the estate’s equivalent water use per acre. From this budget, parameters were established to determine how that total amount would be allocated across the campus through a range of plant and irrigation typologies. Achieving these goals in the desert required a further evolution of aesthetic expectations and maintenance practices to prioritize water conservation through four key lenses: regional water use imperatives; regional ecological understanding; multidimensional planting strategies; and new material and aesthetic approaches. Maintenance and operations staff contributed horticultural and scientific insight to each of these strategies.