Utilizing the roots of the space, the adaptive re-use of the Hughes Plumbing Warehouse went beyond a simple renovation. Set out to transform a 1918 warehouse into a space that would work for them, Overland was in fact transformed by the building. The ground floor studio is organized around collaborative areas integrated into the existing structural grid under daylit clerestories.

The renovation was respectful of the history of the place and materials, yet is moving forward with the integration of modern systems including lighting, daylight and motion sensors, a 65 kW photovoltaic solar array, and efficient mechanical systems.

The building is organized around a newly inserted courtyard; bringing natural light and ventilation to the space, while expanding the entry sequence from the compressed street edge and loading docks along the former railroad corridor. A series of seven closed meeting spaces are thoughtfully placed within the space allowing for privacy and more focused collaboration. These rooms are clad in raw sheet steel and reclaimed wood to respond to the industrial nature of the building, yet are detailed with a refinement that speaks to the sophistication and craft of the tenants.

Solar Panels installed by Freedom Solar Power



Previously a 19th century private estate, the Morris Arboretum is now a 21st century world-renowned public garden and educational institution. As the official arboretum of Pennsylvania, it provides research and outreach services to state agencies, community institutions and citizens of Pennsylvania and beyond.
The new Horticulture Center will form a campus of new and renovated buildings anchored by a central “farm courtyard.” Plans include a large assembly space for receptions, lectures, symposia, classrooms that open to the outdoors, office and storage space and a carpentry workshop for Horticultural staff. The Center will be a convener for environmental stewardship that demonstrates the relationship between people, place and plants. Morris Arboretum is U.S. Green Building Council LEED Platinum certified.

This project serves as the University of Pennsylvania’s first newly constructed “green” building project, providing a note-worthy local, regional and national example for sustainable design and construction.  According to the, USGBC, the Arboretum is the first new construction; not-for-profit Platinum Level LEED Certified building in the greater Philadelphia region and only the second LEED Platinum certified building in the entire Commonwealth. As such, this project serves a national “green” model, inspiring and encouraging other organizations, both non-profits and for-profits, to consider environmentally sustainable and regenerative design in their construction planning.

The new buildings are designed to save more than 40% of the energy costs and will use 40% less water compared to a building that just meets codes. The buildings can move between 100% mechanical ventilation to 100% natural ventilation and blended conditions utilizing both natural and fan ventilation. The floors within the Center are raised providing an efficient air plenum (supported by ground-source geo-thermal heat pump) that supplies heating and air-conditioning for the building without any mechanical systems in the ceiling.
The day-lighting strategies include a unique "natural light fixture" of translucent glass that catches low angle sun and eliminates glare and direct light penetration. Photovoltaic panels provide on-site generation of renewable energy and super-insulated wall sand roofs eliminates infiltration of outside air.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Austin, Texas

Dedicated to teaching people about the environmental necessity, economic value and natural beauty of native plants, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower is designed as a series of outdoor spaces and facilities, including visitors’ galleries, a 200-seat auditorium, classrooms, a gift shop, tea room, conference facilities, administrative offices, a botanical library and research labs. Demonstrating an ecologically sensitive approach to the development of a site with fragile environmental conditions, the buildings and the programs model “total resource conservation” while showing the beauty and benefit of native landscape.

Sustainable techniques employed in the design and construction of the complex range from the reuse of non-biodegradable construction spoil for the fill material of the tower building to extensive passive solar heating. Uniting the complex is one of the largest harvesting systems in the United States, capable of collecting 300,000 gallons of rainwater per year.



The concept design for Li’ao Garden – Lion Sea One Development - Pearl Towers, originates with its location along the Peal River.  The plan is shaped by its orientation to the river, to the prevailing and localized winds, to view and access requirements for the entire Li’ao Garden Development.  Its form reflects an image of graceful movement and flow, which appears to constantly renew and filter life’s processes toward pure and healthy living.  The design is conceived as a working mechanism with efficient use of energy, water and wind, safety, waste management and a healthy quality of life that incorporates urban farming.  The form of the development is inspired by the hills and landscape creating a sensitive juxtaposition of undulating and layered architecture featuring “sky gardens.”

A first principle of the project concept is efficient energy use through passive systems and active energy production.  The structures are configured for prevailing winds to cool building skins and to generate power by the incorporation of wind turbines.  The orientation of structures is set to limit solar gain.  Deep balconies incorporating vegetation produces shade and cooling.  Vegetative roofs provide shading and insulation as well as water treatment opportunities.

Water Use
The approach to water management was to form natural systems for waste and storm water treatment and conservation.  A constructed wetland runs through the center of the community demonstrating natural filtering and purifying.  This water course will be connected to storage areas at the base of buildings and may be pumped for irrigation, water features and other uses.  The vegetative roofs on structures may be used for water treatment.  Proximity to the river may allow the development to use geo thermal heat exchange for the mechanical heating and air conditioning systems.  Grey water retrieval is designed to filtered and stored for use in irrigation of roof gardens, “urban farms” and toilet flushing.


Texas Commission on Environmental Quality


Catalyst Advisors supported the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Agency Procurement and Contracting Processes from January 2011 through August 2011.  The project’s goal was to enhance the Budget and Monitoring System (BAMS) and the Procurement and Contracts Enterprise (PACE) system and related procurement processes by improving their efficiency and effectiveness.  Catalyst performed the following process assessment steps:

•          Verified, validated, and documented current business processes to include work flow diagrams;
•          Conducted 10 facilitated work sessions with various organizational elements;
•          Identified and documented existing procedural gaps, inefficiencies, and other areas for improvement;
•          Provided best practice recommendations, including updated work flow diagrams, tailored to TCEQ’s business environment. 

In order to accomplish TCEQ project objectives, this project was divided into several tasks.  The first was an AS IS assessment.  To accomplish this, Catalyst: conducted a document review of all available documents used by TCEQ for procurement, administering an agency-wide questionnaire, and conducted procurement assessment sessions to validate the AS IS process map.  To identify TO BE recommendations, Catalyst gathered information during the procurement assessment sessions.  Additionally, procurement best practices were identified which will assist TCEQ in accomplishing their goal of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of administering procurements. 

Once the initial assessment was accomplished, TCEQ requested additional support from Catalyst to implement several high value recommendations.  Catalyst developed the structure and content of a new procurement website for users.  We developed four User Guides explaining in layman’s terms how to purchase items from Deliverable Based Information Technology (DBITS) and Texas Multiple Award Schedules Texas contracts and Proprietary Purchases.  Each User Manual was accompanied with a training deck and an exercise explaining the activities to successfully purchase a good or service within TCEQ using these procurement methods.


U.S. / Mexico border

One of the pressing problems facing the world is long-term access to reliable, clean water, particularly by underserved, generally poorer populations. This is a serious matter for sustaining our planet that hits at the heart of social equity. In association with the University of Texas, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Natural Systems International, Inc., we proposed developing decentralized water systems using an integrated approach to planning, architecture, engineering, policy, environment and economics using villages of northern Mexico as a test case. “Bundling” a series of communities will facilitate dealing with overarching political factors; for design purposes we developed modules with enough flexibility for application across this diverse region. This new paradigm addressed complex factors with simple, adaptable transferable solutions. We hope this will become formally adopted and implemented by the Border 2012 initiative and become a model around the globe.