Drawing Rigorous Lines
The Rivermark is the flagship multi-family housing project for West Sacramento’s Bridge District. The project is 100% affordable, providing low-income families access to the riverfront and downtown Sacramento. The landscape design draws inspiration from the geology of the Sierra foothills and the agricultural patterns of the area. A variety of public and private spaces offer access to urban agriculture, recreation, and public art. The resulting project succeeded in achieving a high level of design, programmatic diversity, and material quality, all within the constraints of an affordable housing budget.
The entire project is divided into a linear two-foot grid oriented on the east-west axis, referencing the tectonic shifts and agricultural rows. Forms and materials slide along this grid, as if invisible tectonic ‘microplates’ are moving through the spaces.
Neighborhood: West Sacramento
Date: 2016 Completed
Size: .88 acres/70 units
Client: Bridge Housing
Features: Furniture Design + Craft, Playground
Press and Awards: ASLA National Honor Award
We drew inspiration from the geology of the Sierra foothills and the Sacramento region, as well as the rigorous lines of the surrounding agriculture. Utilizing the excitement of perspectival geometry first introduced in video gaming technology, we divided the entire project into a linear two-foot grid oriented on the east-west axis. Forms and materials slide and move along this grid, as if invisible tectonic ’microplates’ are moving along through the spaces. The project offers community garden plots, stormwater management and green infrastructures, a rock climbing wall, raised meadows, a public art installation, and public plazas. Continuing the theme of natural inspiration, ’The Cloud‘is a custom sculpture suspended from the ceiling in the central lobby.
Drought-tolerant plantings and street trees create a pedestrian scale sidewalk and set a standard for future development within the community. Mature Sycamore trees, which grow naturally along the adjacent Sacramento River, were planted both in the sidewalk and in storm water chicanes within the street. The project also provides garden plots for residents. Green building materials used in the landscape comprise recycled-content steel and high fly-ash concrete. Plantings include built-in water-efficient irrigation and storm-water-management measures.
At ground level, a rust-toned stair tower cedes to a cut boulder-strewn courtyard, recalling the shades and shifting forms of the Sierra Foothills. The entire building has open hallways, to allow residents to enjoy the outside. Boulders seem to migrate through the light corten-steel façade, and into the common areas. Waste cuts from the boulders are also inlaid into the paving. Inlaid black river stones help to materially define the private and public spaces in the public courtyard. The terraced concrete areas in the main plaza are black concrete, with natural walls for contrast.