The Desert Living Center

333 S. Valley View Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89107
Alternate Name(s):
  • Desert Living Center
  • Desert Living Center & Gardens at the Springs Preserve
Completed: 2007-02
Cost: $28 M
Size (sq. ft.): 46000
Other Size Measure: five-arce Demonstration Garden
Owners: Las Vegas Valley Water District
Contractors: Audio and Visual System Engineering: BBI Engineering, Inc.
Civil Engineer: PBS&J
Electrical Engineer: Harris Consulting Engineers
Engineered Living System / Wetlands: Natural Systems, Inc.
General Contractor: Tiberti / Whiting-Turner
Interpretive Exhibits and Educational Planning: Aldrich Pears Associates
Structural Engineer: Stantec
Sustainable Engineering (MEP): Keen Engineering (Stantec)
Sustainable Planning and LEED Certification: Paladino and Company
Architectural Elements: The five principal buildings incorporate many sustainable characteristics, yet each building is different to experiment with the effectiveness of each design principle. Some sustainable design strategies as related to the pending LEED Platinum rating are addressed as follows: Sustainable Sites: Bike racks and alternate fuel vehicle parking are provided. Light-colored roofing and paving reduce heat islands. Over 60 acres of desert and wetlands have been restored on site. All lighting is designed to reduce light pollution. Water Efficiency: Irrigation systems are water-efficient. Black and gray water is treated and reused onsite. Waterless urinals and water-efficient fixtures are used throughout. Energy & Atmosphere: Mechanical systems achieve a 40% to 50% reduction in energy use and are free of HCFC's and Halons. Photovoltaic power and solar water heating are used to reduce grid depend ance. Materials & Resources: Building materials use recycled content and are locally sourced. Materials also are of rapidly renewable crops and from certified sustainable forests. Recycling collection bins are placed onsite. Indoor Environmental Quality: All indoor materials and coatings meet VOC limits. Individual occupants can control lighting and operable windows, and all regularly occupied spaces provide daylight and views. Innovation and Design Process: The buildings are designed to educate the community on Sustainable Design. The DLC reflects the local environment at every opportunity, beginning with solar orientation to optimize the lighting and heating benefits of the sun. Submerging parts of the structures below grade utilizes the earth as a thermal insulator. Above ground, 24-inch rammed earth and straw bale walls resist heat gain or loss, while roofing designs promote water collection and interior daylight. Engineering systems are minimized due to rapid degradation of technological effectiveness and high power consumption. So the buildings mostly use passive sustainable design principles (ex. operable windows, cooling towers, day-lighting, and solar hot water) for robust and efficient operations. The gardens and other landscaping areas included many unique and sustainable techniques. Many of the Mojave native plants are from seed collected in the Las Vegas Valley and most of the native cacti and native yucca species were salvaged from developing local areas. Artificial wetlands produce reusable water from sewage collected at the Springs Preserve. The treated grey water is reused within the DLC and gardens to reduce the need for potable water. Additionally the use of photovoltaic cells fixed throughout the site produce sustainable electricity.
Description: Five Buildings
LEED Platinum Certification

Located in Las Vegas, the Desert Living Center (DLC) is a $40 Million facility on the 180-acre Springs Preserve campus. The 54,000 square foot center and 8 acres of gardens strive to create a unique sense of place while serving as a catalyst for individual and community change from being "in the desert" to being "of the desert." The center consists of five main buildings and a several small structures all integrated into the landscape and function as sustainable exhibits. Each building has different sustainable characteristics as to experiment with the effectiveness of the different design principles. The facility is pending a LEED Platinum Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The DLC promotes sustainable living in the Mojave Desert, showing visitors how to adapt their lifestyles to a desert environment. The DLC honors historical sustainable principles developed by other life living within similar environments. For example, the Anasazi Indians oriented structures around solar optimization, and used thickened walls to reduce heating and cooling needs. Additionally, the desert tortoise burrows into the earth for cooling.

The buildings and gardens work seamlessly with numerous education programs and varied interpretive experiences. Forty three (43) hands-on interactive environmental exhibits, twenty (20) static sustainable design principles exhibits, two temporary galleries, four classrooms, a dialogue center, library/research center, design lab and a technical training studio offer educational opportunities to communicate a vision of sustainable life in the desert, and form the core of a compelling array of experiences and stories aimed at helping people make intelligent choices which contribute to a sustainable future in the Las Vegas Valley. The 8 acres of botanical gardens are integral to the educational purpose with the use of over 1,200 different species of plantings help to demonstrate many sustainable concepts that are displayed throughout the gardens. Mojave native plant communities are the core of the botanical garden collection with some other Southwestern climates also being represented. There is even an Enabling Garden; one designed specially for blind visitors. Many exhibits educate homeowners and professionals about their own landscaping.

The DLC and gardens are grounded as a physical manifestation of sustainable facilities that create a vehicle for educational interaction and dialogue. This interaction with the structures, exhibits, gardens, and other people will serve as a cultural and social contribution toward living sustainably within the Las Vegas Valley and creating a more harmonious relationship with the surrounding Mojave Desert.
Award(s) Won:
Extra Note: AIA Nevada Design Awards (2007) Entry No. B07042, Submission.
UNLV Architecture Studies Library holds: Form Core Boards, Project Identification Form, Photo Release Form, Intern Compensation Disclaimer Form, Project Entry Form, Exteriors Photos, Site Plan, Floor Plans, Interior Photos and CD

Illia, Tony. 2005. Vegas to Convert Old Water Springs Site into Nature Preserve Park. Architectural Record. May, 70

Illia, Tony. Green Acres: Springs Preserve Restores a Desert Oasis. Southwest Contractor. June 2007. [Online]. Available: <>. Accessed June 7, 2007.

"Nevada Best of 2007: Desert Living Center & Gardens at the Springs Preserve." Southwest Contractor. December 2007: 80.

"On the Boards: Desert Living Center & Gardens at The Springs Preserve." Architecture Las Vegas. 2006, 99.

Projects. [online] Available: Accessed October 20th, 2005.
The Desert Living Center and Gardens at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve. AIA Las Vegas
Forum (Mar. 2002): 5.
Spatially Direct Parent: Las Vegas Springs Preserve
Spatially Largest Parent: Las Vegas Springs Preserve

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