Construction of the much-anticipated new laboratory and classroom facility at the Pepperwood Preserve is on schedule to open its doors in late Fall 2009. The 9,500 sf building features a field research laboratory, classrooms, library, and meeting rooms. At publication, the outside structure of steel and concrete is 95% completed and work has begun on the interior. The ‘closing in’ and roof work begins mid-July. In addition to the primary structure, the project includes extensive improvements to the existing roadways and underground utilities, which have been completed.
The elegant split-level design was created by Forrest Architects, and complements the surrounding landscape of grassy slopes, and hills of ancient oaks and a multitude of other tree and shrub species, such as the bay laurel, or pepperwood tree. The building is a U-shaped structure encompassing a 4,000 sf sunken courtyard and fountain. The main entry opens into a spacious foyer from which one may access a laboratory and meeting rooms. The library is above on the mezzanine level, and the two side wings feature classrooms.
Green construction is a priority for the Pepperwood Foundation and they will seek LEED certification for the project. Among the sustainable construction components are “wheatboard” panels, “plyboo,” a finished material of bamboo veneer; recycled materials for doors and fences, and construction debris will be recycled. A rain water collection system for storage in cisterns is being constructed, which will supplement the main water supply from a well on the property.
The Pepperwood Preserve is a 3,117 acre nature preserve located 20 minutes northeast of downtown Santa Rosa amid the beautiful Mayacamas Mountains in the California North Coast Range between Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Originally, the Bechtel family of San Francisco owned the land and maintained it in its natural state. They, in turn, bequeathed it to the California Academy of Sciences in 1979, which then created the Pepperwood Preserve.
In 2005, Herb and Jane Dwight established the Pepperwood Foundation with the vision to purchase the preserve, which they did in the same year, and have since worked steadily to develop it into a research and educational center, and to be “a model of effective preservation and management of wildlands.” Several institutions are affiliated with Pepperwood Preserve providing educational programs and a resource for doctoral and post-doctoral projects for the University of California system, Sonoma State, Santa Rosa Junior College, and the California Academy of Sciences, among others. Public access is managed jointly by the Preserve and Santa Rosa Junior College.