Sunday, October 1, 2023

American Institute of Architects Committee Announces 2006 ‘ Top Ten Green Projects’ 5/10/2006

By C.M. Mattessich

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In recognition of Earth Day 2006, The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) selected “the top ten examples of sustainable architecture and green design solutions that protect and enhance the environment.”  The projects were honored on May 3 during a presentation at the National Building Museum in Washington.
According to the AIA, the 2006 COTE Top Ten Green Projects address environmental conservation and the notion of sustainable development with designs that integrate architecture, technology, and natural systems.  The AIA sought projects that make a positive contribution to their community, improve comfort for building occupants, and reduce environmental impacts through strategies such as reuse of existing structures, connection to transit systems, low-impact site development, energy and water conservation, use of sustainable or renewable construction materials, and design that improves indoor air quality.
Jury members said that they wanted to select a range of projects and building types. The application forms gave them 10 metrics on each project for a quick reading on performance, but the AIA found that “the jury was very focused on the architectural and design aspects of each project as well.”
According to Henry Siegel, FAIA, a member of the COTE national advisory group, “The projects chosen in the Top Ten for 2006 included striking examples of integrated thinking, design excellence, strong energy performance, and mindfulness of water, site, and community matters. The Top Ten Measures, the framework for this program, make up a robust definition of sustainable design, and we’re proud that this year’s winners again live up to those goals.”
The 2006 Top Ten Green Projects, in alphabetical order, are:  Ballard Library and Neighborhood Service Center, Seattle, Washington (Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Seattle);  Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, Kirkland, Wash. (Mahlum Architects, Seattle);  Alberici corporate headquarters, Overland, Mo. (Mackey Mitchell Associates, St. Louis);  Philadelphia Forensic Science Center, Philadelphia, Pa. (Croxton Collaborative Architects, New York City, and Cecil Baker Associates, Philadelphia);  Regional Animal Campus, Las Vegas, Nev. (Tate Snyder Kimsey Architects, Henderson, Nev.);  Renovation of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (SSIHM) Motherhouse, Monroe, Mich. (Susan Maxman & Partners, Philadelphia);  School of Nursing & Student Community Center, Houston, Tx. (BNIM Architects, Kansas City, Mo., and Lake/Flato Architects, San Antonio, Tx.);  Solar Umbrella House, Venice, Calif. (Pugh + Scarpa, Santa Monica, Calif.);  Westcave Preserve Environmental Learning Center, Travis County, Tx. (Jackson & McElhaney Architects, Austin, Tx.);  and the World Birding Center, Mission, Tx.  (Lake/Flato Architects, San Antonio, Tx.).
According to the AIA, the new Forensic Science Center designed for the Philadelphia Police Department (pictured) “is both a state-of-the-art forensics laboratory facility, as well as a demonstration project for environmental/sustainable design, intended as a model for future projects undertaken by the Capitol Program Office of Philadelphia.”
“The building is a 1929 concrete frame, brick infill building and the lab is in a former K-12 school building on a site which had been abandoned for many years. Located in an under-served neighborhood of north Philadelphia with high crime rates, low income levels and few services, the new Forensic Science Center has helped to breathe new life and a better sense of security into an entire neighborhood.”
The jury said of the building:  “This is an adaptive reuse project and lab building that found a way to get really outstanding metrics and performance and this was a low-bid public project with no extra money for green strategies.  They did some simple, clever things such as the tapered ceiling, and putting all the mechanical systems in the middle of the building.  This was one of the best building sections we saw, and we loved the hand drawn quality of it.”
The Regional Animal Campus for the Las Vegas Valley (pictured) is intended to serve the animal sheltering and adoption needs for the cities of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, and surrounding Clark County, Nevada.  Driven by a need to expand its operations, The Animal Foundation plans to create a regional animal campus.
According to the AIA, “the goals for the project’s first phase, the dog adoption park, are to create a memorable and dignified way of presenting animals to the adopting public and to use sustainable strategies in the design of this complex, with the intention of achieving LEED platinum certification.  A healthy, pleasant and comfortable environment is important to visitor attitudes about adoption and the mood and health of sheltered animals.  The costs of maintaining this environment, however, are exceptionally high and directly impact the scale of the Animal Foundation’s operations.  The goal of the design team was to minimize facility costs without affecting the quality of the adoption experience.  Given southern Nevada’s climate, reducing the dog bungalows’ cooling load and water use were identified as the two major areas of focus for facility efficiency.”
Jury comments on the project were: “This is in a tough climate and the project uses natural ventilation. The building type is dense and presents mechanic problems. They really simplified the building and did it really well. It’s a radically different solution, and that is what we love about it. This kind of program is usually relegated to strip mall site and status. They really elevated the project type and you can envision this place really attracting people.”
According to the AIA, the IHM Motherhouse (pictured) came about when the Sisters of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary recognized that their order was diminishing, and embarked on a collaborative, long-range planning process to determine the best way to achieve an ecologically sustainable 21st century community on their 280-acre site in southern Michigan.
“Many of the structures on their property were built in the 1930’s and are historically significant,” said the AIA.  “The design team met the challenge by designing 380,000 square feet of construction that utilized the existing structures to best meet very specific housing, long-term care and spiritual needs, while achieving sustainable and preservation goals.  The team also succeeded in making this austere former convent into a warm and friendly home, with a strong focus on nature and the surrounding site.”
“The Sisters wanted to leave a legacy to future generations with this project.  One of the missions of their order is to respect the Earth and promote eco-justice, so the hope was to create a community that would exemplify these ideals.  Since the SSIHM congregation is known for its teaching excellence, the Sisters saw this project as an opportunity to teach the public about important environmental issues.”
Jury comments on this project included: “The Sisters’ comment that sustainability is a moral mandate was compelling. And here they showed how to be smart with reuse. There is also a strong connection to the neighborhood and a reconstructed wetland, showing how the building engaged in its site and place. There’s a real sensitivity to aging occupants and how they would use the building.”
Inspired by Paul Rudolph’s Umbrella House of 1953, the Solar Umbrella House (pictured) provides a contemporary reinvention of the solar canopy.  The new design reorganizes the residence towards the south, optimizing exposure to energy-rich southern California sunlight.
“Conceived as a solar canopy, photovoltaic panels not only protect the body of the building from thermal heat gain, but also provide the residence with 95% of its electricity,” said the AIA.
“Innovative materials and strategies throughout contribute to both the sustainability and livability of the home, which flows seamlessly from indoors to out.  The Solar Umbrella House is a bold and sophisticated model for responsible living in the 21st century, characterized by its integration of sustainability with a striking yet refined avant-garde aesthetic.
And the jury said:  “The form is elegant and beautiful and comes from an environmental solution. This is a billboard to the neighborhood that you can do photovoltaics in this way. They are an umbrella for outdoor living. And this project actually reused an existing cottage on a dense urban site.”
Finally, in choosing the World Birding Center (pictured) for the Top Ten, the AIA noted that while “the Lower Rio Grande Valley is one of the richest bird habitats in the world, only five percent of the native habitat currently remains.”
“On the major migratory pathway for most North American species, the area has become a major destination for nature enthusiasts,” it continued.  “The new World Birding Center, built at the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park for Texas Parks & Wildlife, creates a gateway between the disturbed agricultural land and a 1700-acre native habitat preserve. The design approach was to do more with less. The architecture learned from the regional vernacular, responded to the harsh climate, and minimized disturbance of existing habitat.”
The jury found that the Center “caters carefully to the type of occupant.  A place for quiet observation, it was a nice, delicate intervention on its site. They brought the programmed square footage down from 20,000 to 13,000. This is a good example of right-sizing, an approach that is often overlooked. This project also follows the big moves: reduce, reuse, recycle.  Reducing square footage is the biggest move you can make.”
Forensic Center
Forensic Center                                                                 Photo:  Barry Halkin
Animal Campus
Animal Campus                                                                  Photo:  Tom Bonner
IHA Motherhouse
IHA Motherhouse                                                                 Photo:  Barry Halkin
Solar Umbrella House
Solar Umbrella House                               Photo:  Marvin Rand

World Birding Center                                                            Photo: Paul Hester

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