Practice Exam #2 Wildlife Rescue Case Study


I’m looking for some clarification on the below case study question:

The parking lot requires significant grading and should be planned in a way that reduces land disturbance and avoids the need for any potential environmental remediation. Which area of the site is the best location to propose for the parking lot?

On the northwest side of the site (Correct. The owner’s program requirements indicate parking for a minimum of 120 vehicles. The relative size of the adjacent site’s parking lot for 15 vehicles provides an approximation of the footprint that might be needed for this facility’s parking lot. The northern portion of the site contains a broad area of land that is the least steep and should serve as the best location given the owner’s requirements. This would also facilitate more manageable building access.)

On the northeast side of the site (Incorrect. While this area of the site is among the flattest, the underground fuel tanks noted in the Phase 1 excerpt are located here. Heavy grading in this area may disturb these objects, creating the potential for site contamination.)

I understand that the northern, flatter portion of the site is best and that we would want to avoid the underground fuel tank noted in the Phase 1 Report, but I wasn’t sure how to for sure know where this tank might be located to determine if the Northwest or Northeast was the correct answer. The Report describes the location “at approximate site elevation +2160,” but this contour line runs across the northern portion from West to East so it could be in either region. There are a few unlabeled rectangles, potentially old structures or platforms, to the Northeast, are we meant to assume that the tank might be underneath or adjacent to these? Am I missing another piece of information from the provided resources?


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Hi @sillscai ,

Great question! @coachchrishopstock can you please take a look at this and see if you can provide any additional insight?


Hello and thanks for writing in about this question!
The rectangles on the site plan are existing structures - therefore it would be a reasonable assumption that the existing USTs are located somewhere in the vicinity of those structures.
The other thing to consider is that access is easier to provide to the NW portion of the site - the SW portion has a relatively level landing area near the road, whereas the SE portion does not.

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Thanks for clarifying, Chris!

I think I approached the question unfocused, with too many variables in mind.

For example, I thought access from the SW might actually be a less desirable entry point, given that stormwater runoff would come down this swale, potentially causing flooding at the entry, and without a nearby water source erosion/unstable soil was likely a concern. Since the scenario stated that the owner would like to minimize the amount of land disturbance of the site, I veered away from leading vehicles up this side of the property. But reading your reply I also see how the steepness of the SE region would require a great deal of land disturbance regardless of soil condition or water, and you could still plan a road which might avoid the natural water runoff of the site if on the SW portion.

I also thought about the scale of the parking lot and the other programmed elements in relation to the adjacent properties. The parking would likely take most of the NW quadrant, meaning the wildlife rehabilitation and aviary elements would take up even more land toward the NE, also at risk for disturbing the underground tanks during construction and up against private land yet to be developed. Programmatically it would be more ideal to place these elements adjacent to the publicly owned hiking trail and overlook.

The main takeaway for me on this one is to focus more on what is written in the question. Since the question only leads you into concerns of the underground tanks and grading for the parking lot, thinking about grading for other program elements or water runoff was overcomplicating it for me! Thanks again for the clarification.

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Is it normal to have assumed that the rectangles are existing buildings? Why would existing buildings not be labeled as such?

The legend is horribly inaccurate: the property line in the legend does not correspond with the property line on the site plan; there is no waterway or easements drawn, therefore these are not needed in the legend; and, the boring locations are not numbered.

Is this the level of inaccuracy we shoudl expect on the exams?

Hi @gerald
Thanks for pointing out the incorrect line type in the legend for the property line - we’ve revised that. I’ve also labeled the existing buildings to avoid future confusion but I’d say that those are the only things on the plan that could possibly be the existing buildings, so I think it’s fair to have to assume that.
In my experience, legends often include items that aren’t shown on the plans because legends tend to be standardized charts that show all possible items that could be included. This is very typical of site plans and surveys, but also of architectural drawings where an architect may show a legend of all possible hatches they include on all of their projects, while not using all of them on a particular project. I’d expect that this could occur on the ARE. The borings are not numbered because it’s not necessary to know which boring is which in order to answer any of the questions.
We’ve heard plenty of times that the ARE questions/case studies are confusing, contain unnecessary information to throw candidates off track, etc. There’s a delicate balance that we need to consider when creating our questions - we need to create questions that mimic what we think is likely to be found on the ARE, not necessarily what we wish the questions on the ARE looked like.

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