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Water + Life Museums

Water + Life Museums, the first LEED®-Platinum rated museum, celebrates the link between Southern California’s water infrastructure and the evolution of life with a 65,000-square-foot facility in the California desert. The educational museums are designed as living examples of environmental sustainability. The facility contains museum exhibit space, laboratories, classrooms, administrative offices, support facilities, gift shops, café, interior plaza and interpretive landscaping.

The architects had to consider extreme weather variations throughout the year combined with heavy foot traffic in the museum. The jurors were impressed with the building’s rooftop photovoltaic system, which is one of the largest of its kind with a 540-kilowatt solar-power system of 3,000 solar panels. This system generates 68 percent of the museum’s electricity. Ten monolithic pylons are the signature architectural element and serve as shading devices for the 8,000-square-feet of recessed glass that provides abundant natural light. Energy saving features also include the implementation of daylight sensors and lighting control systems, a high-efficiency HVAC system, evaporative cooling and radiant systems, a central plant with a radiant system and insulated exterior cladding. Synergistically, these combined systems resulted in energy performance 39.5 percent better than the minimum Title 24 compliance.

In addition, the museum reduces water usage through low-flow plumbing fixtures and a drip-irrigation system.

The jurors said this is one of the most integrated projects of all the entries with its superior shading and radiant flooring heating, all of which complement the museum’s elegant architecture.

Notable Accomplishments

  • the first LEED®-Platinum rated museum
  • Energy performance 39.5 percent better than the minimum Title 24 compliance.

Award Credit

KPFF Consulting Engineers
Landscape Architect
Mia Lehrer & Associates
General Contractor
Lehrer + Gangi Design + Build
Nabih Youssef & Associates
IBE Consulting Engineers
Vector Delta Design Group
Geomatrix Consultants, Inc.
Zinner Consultants
Benny Chan/Fotoworks
Tom Lamb
Michael B. Lehrer, FAIA

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