American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA 2005 Professional Awards
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View looking west of the Gateway Valley with the City of Orinda to the northwest, the San Francisco Bay and the Berkeley Hills to the southwest, and finally Marin County and the coastal range off in the distance.
Approximately 937 acres of land will be assembled to preserve the adjoining native habitat for both wetland mitigation requirements and to preserve the surrounding hillside views. This expansive open space preserve will be accessed by trails serving the East Bay Regional Park system and the Gateway Valley development.
The landscape master plan illustrates the comprehensive strategy for conservation of native grasslands and oak/bay woodland, restoration and enhancement of a network of riparian corridors, and creation of a new residential woodland habitat with appropriate native materials.
Analysis of Habitat and Aquatic Areas, preserve areas, and connecting trail system.
A comprehensive trails system that incorporates community trails, trail heads, and neighborhood trails linking each neighborhood to the internal community facilities with the adjoining regional trail system of the East Bay Regional Park.
Community playfields are located on the reclaimed landfill site where the Oak Woodlands will once again extend down the stabilized Siesta land formation. Quercus Creek will be restored as it crosses re-established meadow valley floor creating a natural division between the ball fields.
Brookside Creek becomes a natural development boundary where all surficial and remedial grading will match exiting grade within 100’ of the creek centerline.
An interconnected trail system creates an extensive pedestrian network connecting the neighborhoods to the larger Gateway Valley community and the surrounding regional trails within the East Bay Regional Park.

Gateway Valley Development, Orinda, CA
Hart Howerton, San Francisco, CA

"Extraordinary. . . incredibly sensitive to the site, given the development pressures. . . significant restraint. . . beautifully depicted."

— 2005 Professional Awards Jury Comments

This project involved the broadest possible professional input reflected in over a dozen disciplines represented on the Project Team. These disciplines ranged from geotechnical engineers to land use attorneys, from arborists to creek restoration engineers. The Team faced particular challenges from public interest groups and Federal agencies dedicated to restoring the valley environment to its original state. With literally hundreds of public meetings and work sessions with environmental agencies, the plan was continually honed and adjusted to meet all the parameters and concerns of each entity. The current plan not only represents the City and community’s interests but does so with great qualities including a unique open space system and beautifully designed amenities.

Decades of quarry activities and trucking have left the scenic Gateway Valley eroded and its creeks choked with sedimentation. The developers charged their professional team with a thorough analysis of the site’s original attributes and the means of restoring them. In addition, the team did exhaustive analysis of all the ecological zones and potential wildlife habitat areas in concert with Federal and State agencies. The result of this exercise had significant effect on the design of the plan by setting aside enormous amounts of land to open space and wildlife habitat. The development area was subsequently clustered in the most environmentally distressed area. Drainage patterns and wildlife movement corridors became the skeleton for the new plan. The project team also had to respond to Orinda residents’ concern over the future use of their last undeveloped large private property. Citizen’s workshops quickly uncovered the dire need for playfields to fulfill their growing demand for active sports programs within a geographic area severely challenged for level land. This became one of the most important elements to weave into an already tight building envelope.

Planning for the valley associated with the environmentally abused former quarry site has taken a long time; during the past 16 years the property has changed hands three times, so the master planners served three consecutive clients. Forgoing building a golf-oriented residential neighborhood, the new owners will develop 245 hillside homes and a complex of recreational facilities intended to serve the entire Orinda community. The final planning solution incorporated an integrated overlay of wildlife, drainage and additional open space corridors with trails and pedestrian movement systems reflective of the patterns of the natural California rolling terrain of ridges and valleys. Roads and home sites were subsequently integrated into this organic design. Additional cultural elements were subsequently added to enrich the plan including the use of historic rosewalk pedestrian walkways to connect neighborhood streets on the vertically challenged site.

Gateway Valley represents Orinda’s last available large development site that is blessed with great natural amenities and saddled with severe environmental constraints. The planning process was characterized by painstaking environmental analysis and extensive community input.

The application of local and regional characteristics is the mainstay of the design approach. Local characteristics include the semi-rural imagery of the Orinda neighborhood landscape including curbless roads, use of drainage swales, roads that are narrow in width, tree islands to break up the roadways, and low scale building approach that blends with the natural landscape. On a regional level, the plan reinforces the qualities of the larger California landscape by making the natural drainage swales and the higher ridge elements the main structure of the plan. All other elements respond to these patterns.

The project is enormously sensitive to the environment through the use of over ninety percent of its land devoted to dedicated and restored open space. The project can actually be understood as a reclamation project. Proposed landscape approach is more appropriately thought of as reforestation than as normal landscaping. Plant types as well as natural planting patterns have all been considered within the plan. The inclusion of drainage swales along the roadways, as well as special water quality control systems have all been incorporated into the project. Because of the thoughtfulness and appropriateness of all the environmental elements, the project has long range sustainability.

Pent-up demand for Orinda homes in a neighborhood setting, within convenient access to jobs represents assurance that the development will be built. Development Agreement signed with the City of Orinda will assure that the development will be built in keeping with the plans. All environmental permitting has been achieved due to the thoroughness of the team’s efforts. The project is now moving into the tentative map stage within construction to begin later this year.

The client will benefit from custom-sited, market-responsive real estate products in a scenic neighborhood setting with a dynamic open space and trail system that will be second to none in the Bay area.

Orinda residents will welcome the opportunity for restoring a devastated Gateway Valley and benefit from beautiful state-of-the-art-playfields set into a natural and scenic setting.

Buyers will benefit from the design that will assure both privacy and a sense of “connectedness” to the surrounding natural open spaces and to a multitude of community amenities.

Other designers will appreciate the integrated system of multi-purpose environmental corridors (rose walks and trails) that provide convenient and beautiful means of scenic walks, surface drainage and migration routes immediately adjacent to their homes and connected to a regional open space system.



Narrow residential travel ways reinforce the rural character of the project while subtle grade variations and curved horizontal alignments assist in providing views of surrounding open space.
The vertical quarry escarpment face is a unique remnant landform that will be stabilized to create a more attractive visual transition between the quarry face and the surrounding landscape.
The residential hillside streets branch off the main entry road along the contours and have a more cultivated landscape image. They will be characterized by an unfolding sequence of driveways, entryways, courtyards, garden walls, architecture and visitor parking areas while the uphill side of the streets will retain a more open feeling of native open grasslands punctuated by occasional groupings of oaks.
A network of paths, trails, and stairs provides connections thoughout historical neighborhoods within the adjacent Berkeley Hills. These quaint pedestrian walkways were the inspiration for the Gateway Rosewalks. These Rosewalks provide the pedestrian link between the adjoining trails from the East Bay Regional Park and the central core path system which links all of the community facilities within Gateway.
The Rosewalks are designed to assist pedestrians in navigating the hillside by providing stairs, rest stops, viewing platforms while also providing buffers between. The lower terminus of the neighborhood Rosewalks occurs at Gateway Boulevard where overlooks are situated for both views of Brookside Creek and future shuttle bus stops linking the community to Orinda and the regional Bay Area Transit stations.
Rosewalks are a vital component of the overall landscape framework that integrates the development area with the surrounding 937 acres of preserved land and native habitat areas. These are more refined open space corridors which promote pedestrian movement throughout the project that parallel and reinforce the natural land forms of the surrounding hillsides.
Homes are organized as interrelated sets of indoor and outdoor rooms oriented to cross-valley views or will open onto sheltered outdoor “rooms” in the form of decks, patios, terraces to take advantage of Orinda’s Mediterranean climate. Hillside homes have been arranged in clusters of three to seven homes located between the landscape framework fingers that provide natural open space links to the community facilities and the adjoining preserve lands.
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