Herman Miller Factory

Herman Miller Factory

At Herman Miller’s furniture manufacturing and assembly plant in rural Georgia, MVVA turned what could have been an ordinary parking lot into part of a thriving ecosystem that neutralizes the impacts of runoff, provides wildlife habitats, and offers a compelling arrival and departure experience for employees and guests. To protect fragile creek ecosystems surrounding the site, it was essential to treat and slowly release runoff from the parking surfaces, the roadway, and the roof of the 330,000-square-foot facility. While the budget for the building originally included no provision for landscape architecture, MVVA (at the architects’ suggestion) proposed that a series of wetlands could form the basis of a stormwater management plan.

An early concept sketch shows parking bays, hedgerows, and wetland meadows, and their relationship to the rolling hills and Etowah River beyond the property line.

Sloping the entire 22-acre building site just under three degrees lets water sheet-drain from impervious surfaces into constructed wetlands planted with grasses, forbs, and sedges. Bordered by thickets of floodplain trees that also shade the lot, the wetlands become meadows when dry. This project creates a new model for low-cost, low-maintenance, environmentally sound factory and warehouse landscapes.

Several shallow wetlands break up parking areas to steadily and consistently absorb runoff, minimizing the amount of overflow that enters the sensitive regional watershed.

Unlike typical parking lots, where massive expanses of impermeable surfaces intensify runoff and erosion, runoff in the parking bays at Herman Miller is mitigated by limited impermeable surface area and buffering hedgerows.

The water systems diagram documents runoff patterns and reveals overflow connections to regional aquatic systems.