The landscape architect who designed the water-conserving landscape around UNLV's Student Services Complex recently received awards from AquaVision and the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) for the project.
Richard Marriotti, a landscape architect with J. W. Zunino & Associates, was honored in the institutional and municipal category of AquaVision's 1995 Landscape Awards, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Las Vegas. The prestigious ASLA award is presented to the best professional design submitted for the contest.
AquaVision is a local organization of businesspeople, elected officials, water agency representatives, and concerned citizens. Its purpose is to promote public education and information about water issues in Southern Nevada. The competition offers awards that recognize efforts to design landscapes that reflect high aesthetic and water-efficiency standards.
UNLV's Student Services Complex is one of the newest structures on the university campus. Opened in 1994, it houses the Donald W. Reynolds Student Services Center, the Newmont Student Development Center, and the Jean Nidetch Women's Center.
Entries in the contest were judged on aesthetics, plant selection, irrigation system, maintenance, and mulches.
Marriotti's design for the landscape around the 45,000-square-foot, $6 million building includes a wide variety of trees, shrubs, ground cover, and accent plants. Much of the area is covered with a two-inch layer of decomposed granite, both for appearance and as a means of slowing evaporation from the soil.
"The southwest entrance to the building provides an inviting space, yet it is still very water efficient," Marriotti explains. "We wanted to include some turf in that area, but not a lot, so we designed a turf area with a curved edge to represent a body of water. Accent boulders were placed adjacent to the edge of the turf to create the impression of a shoreline. In addition to tall California fan palms, which accent the height of the entryway, a number of evergreen and flowering plant varieties keep the area green and colorful year round."
The turf area is irrigated with a low-angle spray system, which minimizes the effect of wind on the sprayers, thus conserving water. The trees and shrubs in the desert landscape are watered by an extremely efficient, low-flow drip system. The entire irrigation system is set up in zones, each controlled by its own valve, effectively creating microclimates around the building, according to Marriotti.
A dry river bed created in the landscape is both decorative and functional. Because the site drains toward the building, the civil engineer who worked on the project incorporated drain lines in the river bed to carry irrigation and rain water away from the building.
Built by Grove, Inc., UNLV's Student Services Complex was designed by Holmes Sabatini Associates. Construction of the building was funded through donations from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, Newmont Gold Co., and Weight Watchers International founder Jean Nidetch.