Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Architect and General Contractor: Revelations Architects/Builders
Owner: Dr. Angelo and Dr. Francesco Sciarrone
Schmeeckle Trails is a prototype for a fresh take on a single family residential subdivision. A model for sustainable development aspirations, even outside of Wisconsin’s major urban centers. It also is an example of a private development partnering with a nature preserve to create a win-win situation for both and the surrounding community.
The owners of the property engaged the architect to help design and develop a 20-acre parcel that they had owned for many years within the small city of Stevens Point. The partially wooded site was located between Schmeeckle Reserve (the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s 280-acre Nature Preserve) and an established residential neighborhood. Moses Creek, which had been shaped into a drainage ditch 100 years ago, ran through the northern portion of the site. The developer had tried developing the site in the past but was looking for creative ideas for a unique subdivision that could leverage the context. Before designing and building homes, the architect team laid out the framework for the development, covenants, lots and streets.
The design concept focuses on creating an environmentally sensitive, residential subdivision adjacent to Schmeeckle Reserve with concise residential lots. First, the architect laid out a site plan that included donating a corner of the parcel (3.62 acres) to the University, including all parts of Moses Creek that ran through the site. This donated land helped gain public favor for the development and enabled the University to obtain a 1.4 million dollar grant to restore this portion of Moses Creek from a ditch into a natural topography with wetlands, and create a new type of ecosystem in the reserve. The donated property also included a trail to link the existing nature trail network to the new public street. The architect designed and built a footbridge over Moses Creek to provide direct access to Schmeeckle Reserve for the surrounding neighborhood and beyond.
A drainage system was designed to keep all storm water on site and prevent runoff from polluting and flooding. The storm-water retention pond became the bed for closed-loop geothermal slinky beds for adjacent properties. The team designed and built the first solar streetlights in Stevens Point, which were combined with Peterson bluebird houses, in the boulevard rain gardens. Covenants prohibit clear cutting of vegetation near the edge of lots to ensure a natural setting and privacy.
All but one of the houses had an owner as client making each of the house designs unique to the end user. The typical architect-client relationship took place during each design phase. Each house is unique, but share architectural DNA to make houses that are: modern, modest, high performing, cost-effective durable and contextual. Concise, robust forms and materials echo utilitarian buildings of the area. The materials were selected based on the client, budget, function, and maintenance. Wood, stone, concrete, corrugated metal and standing seam roofs provide a common palate that unifies the homes. High performing envelopes, geothermal heat pumps and photovoltaics are utilized throughout the development.
Photos: Dan Yudchitz and Dan Huffman