Santa Barbara · Montecito · Ojai · Malibu · Ventura · Pasadena
California State University
Camarillo, California
"Our garden design produced an enchanting, enclosed courtyard that flatters the existing historic Spanish Revival Architecture." Leland Walmsley


The 23rd campus in the California State University system, California State University Channel Islands is known as the “brightest jewel in the crown” of the Cal. St. system.

We are honored to have been charged with reviving an old and forgotten, walled-in outdoor space of about 2500 sq. ft. known as the “archive courtyard”, behind the world renowned Broome library.

Private and closed-off from student access, the administration had special plans to use this space exclusively for high-end fundraising events to solicit endowments for the university.

This area was a blank slate with 2 amazing elements for us to work with and highlight: (1) stirring views of a dramatic, undeveloped neighboring hillside, and (2) an impressive 50 foot tall Moreton Bay Fig as its centerpiece with an expansive 50 foot canopy.

Our ideas came from imagining intimate gatherings with 70+ VIPs, an elegant string quartet, caterers, etc. – simple yet sophisticated, clean, graceful, inspiring.

We incorporated decorative gravel to compliment the local stone & native bunch grasses at the fig tree’s base and skillfully peppered native shrubs, succulents & Mediterranean plants along the perimeter in eye-catching arrangements, helping to foster “stimulating conversations”.

Our new lighting plan now provides for soft and carefully balanced illumination throughout to create a pleasing and cheerful atmosphere.

Sustainability Highlights

  • Landscape irrigation is recycled waste water
  • Because the drainage transitions to local watersheds, we were sure to institute the use of non-toxics – herbicides, fertilizers, soil amendments, etc.
  • Permeable pavers for the patio area allow for rainwater infiltration and groundwater recharge
  • Design reduces stormwater flows that lead to urban flooding
  • Pervious decomposed gravel allows for rainfall percolation and does not contribute to storm flows
  • Zoned ‘smart’ irrigation for precise watering
  • Use of succulents, natives, and South African plants with low water needs, pest and disease resistance, while looking beautiful and lush.
  • Native plants need no irrigation once established.
  • No lawn -- reduced maintenance and use of fossil fuel burning equipment and no noisy lawn mowers.
  • Liberal use of mulch for weed control, retains soil moisture to reduce the drying effect of winds, reduces maintenance costs, and revitalizes the soil as it breaks down.
  • “Warm” LED low wattage lighting uses 1/10 the energy of traditional lighting & compliant with “Dark Skies Initiative” (light pollution)
  • The school has adopted a “sustainable agenda”. Click HERE and HERE for more information.