This park is another example of how we strive to achieve ecologically intelligent design to balance aesthetics, function, and the environment.

A restored wetland habitat, an inviting spot for students, a system that filters and cleans runoff—all of these things have been incorporated into a site that was until recently a gravel parking lot. Before meeting with us, the University feared that a required habitat buffer would result in the loss of use of acres of beautiful coastal bluff property.

We convinced them to regard it as an opportunity to create a park as a wilderness interface to a new cluster of student resident halls and a potential research laboratory for habitat restoration. This is no habitat cordoned off by fencing. Instead, trails, ocean overlooks, picnic tables as study areas, a surf shower, stairs and ramp down to the beach, all invite students to enjoy this park, while restored vernal pools marshes and meadows—with larger vegetation as barriers to sensitive areas—are equally welcoming to native plants and wildlife.

A boardwalk right through the middle of the biggest vernal pool gives students a firsthand look at this thriving ecosystem. The park is designed to clean runoff water too, taking the site drainage and removing pollutants before it enters the adjacent lagoon. In the end, it’s a place that is as great for people as it is restorative to the environment.