Surface 678 designs emphasize both “placemaking” and the enhancement of environmental systems, expressing both the natural and the constructed landscape using principles of sustainable site design. Embracing a holistic building / site approach, Surface 678 projects integrate innovative technical solutions and “green” design strategies into the built environment. The result has been a number of successful US Green Building Council LEED-certified designs, Audubon Society-certified landscapes, and participation in the pilot program of the American Society of Landscape Architects’ Sustainable Sites Initiative.


In April 2010, The North Carolina Museum of Art unveiled an unprecedented $138 million renovation and expansion of its facilities and 164-acre campus that has advanced the Museum’s mission of integrating of art, ecology, education, and recreation. A holistic storm water management system allows the Museum to improve the water quality of its campus runoff while providing an educational feature that supports Museum art and environment programs. As lead site designer, Surface 678 coordinated the design of the new museum grounds, plazas and sculpture courtyards to incorporate an innovative storm water filtration and recovery system. Collaborating with Artifex Environmental Design, a storm water management specialist, Surface 678 designed a system that uses a 90,000 gallon cistern to store site and building-generated rainwater and HVAC condensate from the new West building designed by Thomas Phifer. The Pond, which is the primary water quality feature on the museum grounds, collects, filters, stores and recycles storm water in a stylized land and waterscape. Upland runoff is treated by overland flow, a naturalized swale, a series of energy-dissipating rock weirs and scour ponds, bio-terraces and wetland gardens before entering the main detention Pond. Native plantings and tree groves are arranged to correspond with various hydrologic zones creating a landscape that demonstrates the link between water, soils, plants and landform. Water from the Pond is re-circulated back to the cistern, ultimately allowing the West Building courtyard fountains and site irrigation system to utilize recycled water and avoid drought-induced potable water restrictions.

The design for the redevelopment of the 25-acre Academic Quadrangle integrates storm water management as a major environmental amenity and campus social space. Formed by various academic buildings including a new Science & Technology Building, the Quad is the heart of a newly emerging science precinct and, once fully developed, will be the largest concentration of academic space on campus. Designed with seating areas and gathering spaces that front a large water feature, the Quad will provide opportunities for outdoor classrooms, biology, chemistry and environmental research.The storm water / landscape redevelopment is multi-functional, combining reclaimed spring water as a source for a prominent water feature and integrating a series of decentralized and regional strategies for managing campus runoff. A succession of biobasins, rain gardens and created wetlands that store and cleanse stormwater from adjacent rooftops and parking areas, collectively create a new campus space and demonstrate sustainable building practices. These retention devices will recirculate water for reuse in campus irrigation systems and pond recharge. Plantings will have a visible connection to the associated hydrology.