01.05.2015 Florian Maier

Sweetwater Spectrum Community - 2015 AIA Top Ten Green Project

Photograph: Tim Griffith

Sweetwater Spectrum is a nonprofit organization founded in 2009 by families, autism professionals, and community leaders to provide appropriate high-quality housing for adults with autism in order to maximize residents’ individual development and independence. Architect: LEDDY MAYTUM STACY Architects
Location: 369 Fifth Street West, Sonoma, California 95476, United States
Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States, affecting one in 68 children. In the coming decade, as many as 500,000 children with autism will reach adulthood, yet few residential options exist for them. Sweetwater Spectrum is an innovative new model that can be replicated nationwide to help solve this impending housing crisis.
Jury comment: This is a thoughtfully designed and carefully detailed project. The agenda extends beyond the building to include food production on-site and a therapy pool, as well as other services for autistic adults. The emphasis on sustainable passive strategies, including 100% natural ventilation and cooling, is very subtle and quietly done. The landscape design of the site focuses on stormwater treatment that manages 100% of the site's stormwater as well as a one-acre organic garden, orchard and greenhouse that provides both food and therapeutic value. The scale of building and site landscape keeps with the scale of the surrounding area, which is important in incorporating this type of facility into a residential neighborhood that had been slated for 14 new single-family homes. The indoor and outdoor spaces are seamlessly integrated. Half of the building's power is generated by the photovoltaic system, but the 51 KW solar electric system is designed to be expanded and make the building net-zero at a later date. Solar water heating also provides 85% of the domestic hot water and pool heating.
Project data Client: Sweetwater Spectrum, Inc.
Gross floor area: 16,300 square feet
Completion: January, 2013
Costs: US-Dollar 6.885 million
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