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2003 Awards

ASLA 2003 Design Excellence Award

Westlake Corporate Campus, Circle T Ranch, Westlake, Texas
Landscape Architect: SWA Group, Dallas, TX
Owner/Client: Name withheld by request

The design of Westlake Corporate Campus captures the essence of a country ranch—integrating a 650,000-square-foot office building and a parking structure for 2,700 cars with forest, meadow, and ponds. Located on 309 acres near Solana, between Dallas and Fort Worth, the site is an active ranchland. Part open pasture and part post oak savannah, it has two existing ponds, wildflower meadows, and rolling terrain. It was the first land development along the rapidly-developing Highway 114 Corridor in the Town of Westlake, west of Dallas, where many ranches are under pressure by suburbanization. The project met and exceeded all development standards mandated by the town and has become their model for future development.

Through close collaboration with client representatives, the SWA Group determined that the campus should emulate the experience of a ‘country home,’ with buildings, roadways, and garage integrated into the indigenous landscape. Cars are accommodated within a five-story parking structure in order to preserve trees and allow flexibility to create a meadow. To screen the parking garage from the office building, the designers placed them at a distance from each other and provided a covered walkway for shade. The walkway serves as a journey through the landscape’s flowering perennials, grasses, and trees. The building lobby is situated so that it focuses on a mature grove of post oaks rather than the parking garage. The building backs up into wildflower meadows, created with fill from the rest of the site, graded, and planted to appear natural and screen future development beyond its edges. An entry drive preserves the existing forest and integrates new planting for seasonal color.

As requested by the client, meadow grasses and indigenous plant material evoke the north Texas grasslands. Exterior public spaces are articulated with flagstone, spring-like water features, and drifts of dry-land plant materials, such as prickly pear cactus and muhly grass. The use of Texas sandstone, steel, and glass on both the building and site work established a palette that harmonizes with the subtle coloration and texture of the site. Site geometry is purposely non-directional to weave the new site work into the natural landscape. Roadways are narrow and curbless to express the idea of a country road and allow water to return to the landscape. Roadway lighting is placed in trees rather than on poles, and all site hardware is minimized. Every design element helps to preserve as many existing trees, plant communities, and habitat areas as possible, and provides for dam reconstruction, pond reshaping, dredging, and restoration of edge habitat. In addition, approximately 1,000 new trees were established for the next generation of forest.

Click photo for a larger image.
Right click to download full size image Mature grove of post oaks guards the Main Lobby, while a covered walkway links the strategically separated garage to the main office building providing a journey through the landscape’s flowering perennials, grasses, and trees. (Photo by: Tom Fox)
   
Right click to download full size image By utilizing forest, meadow and ponds, the design integrates qualities of a country ranch to successfully integrate a 650,000-square-foot office building and a 2700-car parking garage, utilizing forest, meadow and ponds. (Photo by: Tom Fox)
   
Right click to download full size image
Sandstone is a predominant material for both the building and watercourses at the Main Lobby, creating the feeling that structure and ponds are part of the exposed rock of the site itself. (Photo by: Tom Fox)
   
Right click to download full size image The watercourses handle site drainage while providing amenity. The “bones” of the watercourses consist of cobbles on grates along the bottom, through which water bubbles up, spreading out in smooth ripples over the surface like a native, aquifer-fed spring. (Photo by: Tom Fox)
   
Right click to download full size image The building backs up into wildflower meadows, created by fill from the rest of the site, graded and planted to appear natural and screen future development beyond its edges. (Photo by: Tom Fox)
   
Right click to download full size image
Perennials mixed with grasses evoke the much-beloved Texas wildflowers. (Photo by: Tom Fox)
   
Right click to download full size image Fifteen different grasses, including natives and ornamentals, stitch together the natural and man-made landscapes. (Photo by: Tom Fox)
   
Right click to download full size image At some distance from the main building, a pavilion calls employees to wander through the landscape. The pond edge mirrors three different treatments corresponding to natural habitats: a sedimentary stone layer edge, a layer planted with native aquatic plants, and an edge which maintains the natural pond edge of American Lotus. (Photo by: Tom Fox)
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