For sustainability guru William A. McDonough, FAIA, buildings aren't vampires sucking up natural resources, but regenerative systems that should improve the environment. “The idea of 'getting to zero' for water or energy use is ridiculous. Is that the best we can do?” he says. This ethos, the guiding principle of his design career, is clearly embodied by the Meadow Farm House, completed in 2013 for a family whose values align closely with his own.
The building site, a secluded three-acre perch in northern California, sits close to but not directly overlooking the Pacific Ocean. “You sense the water's presence through the coastal breezes that sweep across the land here in waves,” says McDonough. The LEED Platinum project, a collaboration with interior designer Carla Carstens and landscape architect Bernard Trainor + Associates, evolved into an organic farm, with a 6,120-square-foot house and outbuildings nestled in a landscape of orchards, gardens, and native trees.