Location: Truckee, California

The station is a collaboration between the University of California at Berkeley, the Tahoe National Forest, and the Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, all working together to achieve one goal: promoting excellence in research and education in a natural environmentally-functioning eco-system. Located in a sensitive ecosystem, the design for Sagehen balances a multi-building complex linked together with walking and drive access, and low-impact design strategies.

The site, first founded by researcher and conservationist Starker Leopold, has been designated as the West Coast Aldo Leopold Center.  Sagehen has been home to the longest running (since the 1950’s) continuous scientific data gathering on watershed conditions in the United States. Site-sourced stone and timber become important architectural elements and materials.  Passive and active systems interact to provide energy and comfort, and are part of an ‘off-the-grid’ strategy for the entire station.

The vision of Sagehen Creek Field Station has many layers:

  • Protect its 50 year legacy by jointly managing fire risk within the 8,000 acre forest in which the research station is situated
  • Cultivate relationships with and support from a wider audience locally, nationally and internationally.
  • Stimulate collaboration among researchers and educators from many institutions.
  • Coordinate among competing demands for the station without creating internal conflict.

How do you…
– provide for researchers, K-12 students and other visitors?
– balance constructing buildings and yet maintain the wilderness?
– translate this into a Master Plan?

…Via sensibility, sensitivity, and sustainability.

Initial concerns raised by the Sagehen Creek Field Station Manager include:

  • Life safety issues / ADA compliance / California Building Code compliance
  • California Energy Code (Title 24) / target 20% better
  • University of California Standards
  • Savings by Design / Equivalent of LEED 2.1 Silver
  • Water for domestic and fire
  • Fire management, both buildings and forest
  • Ability to shut down and turn on modularly, easily
  • Energy generation / Utility infrastructure
  • Electrical charging stations for vehicles
  • Open, natural feel
  • Connection between buildings yet enough separation to choose to be disconnected
  • Use natural site-provided materials (lumber, rock, etc.)
  • Modular building
  • Parking
  • Recycling
  • New research facility, including student forest and wildlife rehabilitation center