Inland Kenworth industrial site in the City of Nanaimo establishes ‘design with nature’ precedent
The site development for the Inland Kenworth truck and heavy equipment facility in Nanaimo illustrates how “designing with nature” and “green value” converge to produce a superior outcome, while reducing the ‘hydrologic footprint’. The site is situated at the intersection of the intersection of the Nanaimo Parkway and Northfield Road, and is close to a residential area.
Showcasing Innovation Program
This project was one of three City case studies featured as part of Showcasing Green Infrastructure Innovation in Greater Nanaimo. Each case study illustrated application of design with nature principles and way-of-thinking.
At the Showcasing Innovation in Nanaimo event in September 2007, Gary Noble and Dean Mousseau of the CIty provided the planning and development services perspectives, respectively, as to how the Nanaimo Parkway Design Guidelines provided the impetus for designing with nature. Then, during the site visit, Greg Constable of Island West Developments provided the owner’s perspective.
From a City of Nanaimo perspective, the Inland Kenworth industrial development is a milestone project because City staff believe it represents the turning of the tide in the way land is being developed in the City. Furthermore, the raised expectations as to what can be achieved have become the catalyst for green infrastructure innovation on other sites.
It Starts with a Conversation
Gary Noble and Dean Mousseau told a series of anecdotes that painted a picture of how the project took shape through a process of conversations with the developer and his consulting team.
“Our understanding is that, in relocating from an intensively urban location to the Northfield site, Inland Kenworth was motivated to position the company as a ‘green’ organization,” commented Gary Noble. “This meant that the owner’s representative (Greg Constable) was receptive to suggestions, including the City’s request that he assemble a multi-disciplinary design team.”
Work with the Site Attributes
According to Gary Noble, one of the early keys to success was the time that City staff, the owner’s representative and the design team spent walking the site. “In retrospect, we were team-building as we learned,” he told the Showcasing audience, “In terms of time spent on site, it was an expensive process, but it was worth it because everyone started to recognize the opportunities and understand the constraints,” observed Gary Noble.
The City established its expectations early in the process. Staff challenged the design team to “dare to be different” rather than be satisfied with another routine application of unimaginative site planning practices.
As Gary Noble and Dean Mousseau told the Inland Kenworth story to a receptive audience at the Showcasing Innovation event, it became clear that the project team had intuitively applied a systematic methodology that reflected the essence of the ecological planning approach pioneered by Ian McHarg. His 1969 book Design with Nature continues to be one of the most widely celebrated books on landscape architecture and land-use planning.
According to Dean Mousseau, very quickly the site attributes began to drive the planning for site development. “There were competing interests that had to be reconciled through compromises,” he noted. “We started with the requirements for both the Character Protection Area and the Tree Protection Area. Equally important, access to the site had to be compatible with the proposed alignment for a future parkway interchange,” explained Dean Mousseau.
“As we collectively began to understand both the constraints and opportunities, the design team became animated and energized,” observed Gary Noble, “We could not help but notice the major change in attitude as the group of design professionals began to gel as a design team.”
Reflect the Local Coal Mining Heritage
To represent and reflect the coal mining heritage of the surrounding area, roof drainage is conveyed to a sluice box structure that discharges onto a rock garden. “The water then flows via a man-made streambed that has been excavated through a rock outcrop to connect with the Northfield Road drainage system which outlets into a natural wetland,” elaborated Gary Noble. “The dry streambed is filled with rock and is a distinctive and highly visible feature of the development.”
During the site tour, Greg Constable observed: “This is the first project that I have built without a catch basin.” Drainage runoff from the parking area is infiltrated along the perimeter of the property. He also noted that the building is oriented such that the corporate offices are shaded and have a pleasing view of the forest buffer.
When asked about the project costs and the premium for ‘designing with nature’, the response of Greg Constable was: “It is a matter of demonstrating the benefits to owners.” Gary Noble commented that it is a case of looking at tradeoffs – for example, a potential cost for site landscaping associated with a conventional industrial development was eliminated as a result of preserving the tree buffer around the site. The trees provide the site with character.
According to Dean Mousseau, “We view this project as the one that has changed the thinking of the consulting community in Nanaimo, particularly on redevelopment projects. For example, the Inland Kenworth design team is undertaking the redevelopment of the former Inland Kenworth site for a car dealership. The team members are initiating the conversation, and they are taking the initiative, to bring forward innovative concepts for reducing the drainage impact of what will be a very large parking lot.”
Dean Mousseau concluded by providing this perspective of the changes currently taking place in Nanaimo: “Even in traditional, hard-piped urban areas where it would be easy to connect to storm sewers that discharge to the ocean, project proponents are telling us that they want to be innovative when redeveloping their properties. We are turning the tide because development and redevelopment projects are now incorporating features for rainwater runoff capture.”
To download a copy of the PowerPoint presentation by Gary Noble and Dean Mousseau, please click on this link to Inland Kenworth Site – Northfield Road.
Posted September 2007