The Herman Miller furniture manufacturing and assembly plant is situated on a 70-acre site in rural Georgia. The project’s modest building and site budget included no provision for landscape architecture before the architects invited MVVA to join the design team. The client required parking for 550 cars and 120 semi-trailers, a total area of 10 acres. Runoff from the parking surfaces, the roadway, and the roof of the 330,000 square-foot facility would have had a devastating impact on the surrounding fragile creek ecosystems. MVVA determined that treating and slowly releasing the massive runoff in the landscape must become an essential priority for the project.
By grading the entire 22-acre building site at five percent to place the factory on a level base, MVVA’s design lets water sheet drain from impervious areas into wetlands constructed for the purpose, thereby eliminating the need for curbs, pipes, and manholes. The parking lot is divided into three bays that drain into wetlands planted with grasses, forbs, and sedges. When dry, these areas become meadows. The edges of these wetland trays transition to 10 to 15-foot-wide thickets of floodplain trees.
By integrating ecology into acres of hardscape in an honest, elegant manner, this project creates a new model for low-cost, low-maintenance, environmentally sound factory landscapes. This model could be applied with equal success in suburban and urban areas and demonstrates how landscape architects can take a lead in linking effective hydrological management with good design.
The Herman Miller Factory Landscape received a 2005 ASLA Design Honor Award