Located on the suburban outskirts of New Haven, the facility is a reserve water source for the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority. It draws water from nearby Lake Whitney, at the base of the Mill River Watershed. On a limited budget of around $5 per square foot, this project raises the bar for municipal infrastructure design. Using techniques adapted from restoration ecology and bioengineering, the landscape creates a microcosm of the surrounding regional watershed, from mountain source to reservoir. The result is a rich, humanely scaled terrain that invites neighbors to engage with the land from the perspective of the water that flows through it.
The new topography is stabilized using bioengineering methods. Swales replace a traditional engineered drainage system, guiding site runoff through a series of discrete landscapes—including farmland, meadow, and valley stream—before collecting it in a new pond that recharges the groundwater table. The planting schemes for the grounds and the building’s green roof use native species that require no fertilizers or pesticides, reducing the facility’s downstream impact. The plant palette is also calibrated for seasonal variation in color and texture, and anticipates the natural evolution of plant communities over time. By positioning 70% of the building below grade, MVVA places the landscape at the forefront of the design as a didactic microcosm of the entire regional watershed.
The Connecticut Water Treatment Facility won a 2010 ASLA Design Honor Award