Making the invisible visible
While most sewage treatment plants are invisible to their communities and separated by a chain link fence, the LOTT Clean Water Alliance Regional Service Center is a visible and active participant in the public life of Washington's capital city. The LOTT Clean Water Alliance provides Class A reclaimed water and emphasizes water conservation through a strong community outreach program, in addition to providing wastewater treatment services to 85,000 people in four local communities. The new facility, located on the site of its existing Budd Inlet Treatment Plant, brings all management and staff together in one location. The facility includes three major elements:
- a renovated 7,700 ft2 water quality laboratory
- a new 21,300 ft2 office
- a 3,500 ft2 education and technology center
Project as "pioneer" species
Like the first seed of a pioneer species blown onto disturbed soil, this facility has taken root as the first project of an urban revitalization master plan where underutilized industrial buildings once stood. The heart of the master plan is a large public plaza featuring a pond supplied with LOTT's reclaimed water.
The concept of celebrating water as a precious resource is one that informed almost every design decision. It informed the building's relationship to its site and adjacent projects, anchored the landscape design and public plaza, influenced the selection of native plants and irrigation design, informed the interpretive exhibits, and fostered significant water reduction strategies.
The pinnacle of this concept is the reclaimed water pond, a physical manifestation of LOTT's vision to elevate the concept of reclaimed water in the community. The water feature engages visitors as they walk over one of two bridges that span the pond in order to enter the building. Once visitors are inside, the pond continues to be a primary design element, as it is visible from both the offices and the interpretive center. The water feature also provides a pleasant auditory connection when employees take advantage of the operable windows in the adjacent offices. The pond's perimeter is surrounded by multiple interpretive exhibits that explain the pond and reclaimed water.