Sustainable, Livable and Beautiful: Heritage, an Active Adult Community
Heritage El Dorado Hills project is an active adult community located in El Dorado Hills Ca. As “baby boomers” reach retirement age they desire to move out of high cost of living areas to find locations that allow them to stretch their retirement funds. They also desire to live in communities that are centered around their peers and lifestyles. El Dorado Hills, with its natural beauty, great location in the center of California and close proximity to shopping, health care, restaurants and other amenities has made it a successful location for both planning and now building these communities.
Callander Associates was hired as the project landscape architect to design all of the landscape areas including the streetscapes, common areas, amenity center, trail systems and model homes. From the beginning, two major goals were established for the landscape design; first was to create a community that showcases amenities that better represent the residents needs and secondly, create a unique sustainable landscape that transports residents to an environment that represents their own identity and sense of place. Everything was scaled and designed to give the residents a feel like they are entering their own private estate in the sierra foothills.
The Fitness Clubhouse “The Retreat” is the centerpiece of phase one and operates as the sales center and beginning of the model home tour. Highlights of the Fitness Clubhouse include an enclosed pool with retractable roof, a main “central green” that steps down from the building and integration of many other active and passive amenities grouped together on the site. The site was purposefully placed along one of the many natural open space corridors that flow through the development to allow extended views and also access to the internal multi-use trail system. Residents of the neighboring active adult community provided input on the design such as; three tennis courts to allow tournament tennis play, separate pickle ball courts and larger flexible gathering spaces for group events. Multi-functional spaces allow for areas to be used as a private yoga courtyard with bubbling fountains that then transforms into night event gathering spaces where one can sit by the fireplace with friends. The large central green is sized to accommodate a large tent for bigger events. Simple things like requests for more shade were reflected in the many shade shelters incorporated into the final project.
Drawing inspiration from the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, the designs of the community monumentation, Fitness Clubhouse, and planting successfully blend the look and feel of Santa Barbara with the native beauty of the surrounding California foothills. Almost the entire planting palette is low or very low water use as designated by WUCOLs with palm, pine and oak trees artfully integrated to provide the backbone of the landscape design. The only lawn area in the entire project is located in the “Central Green” at the Fitness Clubhouse. Architectural elements include contrasting materials of board form concrete walls and white stucco with natural materials of stone, rock, decomposed granite and corten steel. Accents of Peacock blue tiles, brick and glazed pots highlight entrances and focal points in the landscape.
During the design process the drought and subsequent water restrictions were implemented and validated many of the early design decisions made to encourage sustainability throughout the project. None of the new homes will have grass in their front yards and even the designs of the back yards will be strictly regulated to meet a landscape water budget which is more restrictive than the State’s Water Efficiency Landscape Requirements. To help future homeowners visualize these goals, the model homes were designed with back yards that do not contain natural turf but highlight the use of alternative surfaces such as pavers, decomposed granite and artificial turf. This project will be a premier example of water conservation in a large scale residential setting.
Ben Woodside, Principal in the Rancho Cordova Office and Melissa Ruth, Project Manager