Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD) moved into its new building in December 2018. The open workspace, access to public transit, bike racks, locker rooms, natural sunlight, outdoor meeting and lunch space and so much more have been a welcomed change for staff and visitors alike. We have enjoyed hosting many tours, special events and meetings for partner organizations over the past nine months.
Our Hamline-Midway neighbors have watched alongside staff, board and volunteers as this site has been transformed in recent months. Numerous clean water features such as several large rain gardens, tree trenches and permeable pavement were added to collect rainwater and allow it to soak into the ground. This concept is fundamental to the work of CRWD because as rainwater flows over hard surfaces such as roads, sidewalks and parking lots, it carries pollution with it to storm drains and the Mississippi River.
A new pocket park with a water feature, native plantings and an interactive educational exhibit were added to the corner of Thomas Avenue and Aldine Street. This park was added to the site to increase access to greenspace for neighbors, staff and other visitors to enjoy. We have been excited to see neighbors enjoying picnic lunches on our benches, playing with our new interactive exhibit and exploring wildlife stamps on sidewalks throughout the site with our new Water Wildlife Exploration Game.
We’ve received many questions about the plantings on our boulevards. A native seed mix was added to them after construction. They will eventually include wildflowers that are both beautiful and support pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
CRWD is striving to achieve a LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council (USGBC), which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. According to the USGBC, “LEED provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings.” With this certification, CRWD is not only expected to incorporate sustainable practices into its building, but also to measure performance to ensure we are achieving our goals.
Working in a smart building has been an adventure. The blinds adjust automatically to maximize use of natural sunlight and minimize use of electricity. A series of solar panels provide 25% of CRWD’s electricity needs. Recycled materials such as carpeting made from recycled fishing nets and wooden panels from Siberian Elm harvested at nearby Willow Reserve have been key elements in the design. Robust recycling and composting programs also exist to reduce waste in the office and at meetings or special events hosted by CRWD.
RAINWATER CAPTURE SYSTEM
Our cistern – you can’t miss it! All the roof water is collected and directed to a 3,000-gallon cistern in CRWD’s lobby. The water passes through a pretreatment system that removes all the big particles. Additional treatment is provided to remove finer sediments, particulates and bacteria before the water is used for toilet flushing, bottle washing, spigot use, and the interactive exhibit located in the pocket park. Look for the blue pipes on the ceiling that carry roof water to the cistern during your next visit!
CRWD utilizes a weather forecasting system that predicts storms and coordinates the controlled draw down of the cistern to create room for incoming rainwater. That water is discharged to a channel on the west side of the building and into the rain garden before storms arrive. This system allows CRWD to capture and clean enough rainwater to supply 75% of our building’s non-potable water needs.
ART & SCIENCE
The intersection of art and science is an important component of CRWD’s communications and engagement work. Several original works of art can be found throughout our building.
For CRWD’s 20th anniversary celebration in October 2018 local artist Tamsie Ringler did an on-site iron pour of the Mississippi River watershed, titled Mississippi River of Iron.
CRWD commissioned “Flow”, a painting by local artist Ta-coumba Aiken. The painting was translated to a privacy wall of etched glass along the west side of the lobby. It includes imagery of water, nature and daily life. Staff and visitors enjoy looking for the hidden images and meaning, seeing something new each time they view the piece.
Look up in the Trout Brook space on the west side of the building to see water data in action! Artist David Bowen built tele-present water, a kinetic sculpture that visualizes the movement of water within the historic Trout Brook Interceptor, a storm sewer system managed by CRWD that drains rainwater from parts of Roseville, Saint Paul, Falcon Heights and Maplewood to the Mississippi River. Bowen wrote custom software to map CRWD’s water monitoring data as wave height and water velocity to physically represent the ever-changing underground patterns of flow in the Trout Brook storm sewer system. The suspending moving grid structure is articulated in gentle rolling and waves.
Local artist Annie Henjy creates abstract paintings using water and sediment from the Mississippi River. The painting in our lobby is from a series Henjy did with students during the Linwood Monroe Arts Rain Garden Field Day, an environmental learning project sponsored collaboratively by CRWD, Summit Hill Association and Linwood Monroe Arts School in Saint Paul for second grade students and staff.
A SPECIAL THANK YOU
CRWD has greatly appreciated the warm welcome we’ve received from neighbors, local businesses and community organizations. We look forward to meeting more of our neighbors and to inviting partners from all over the District to enjoy all that our new building has to offer.
A special thank you to MSR Design architecture firm and JE Dunn construction manager. Many individuals and organizations contributed to the final design and implementation of the building and grounds. Thank you to everyone for making CRWD’s new building a wonderful space to help further our mission to protect, manage and improve the water resources of the District.