Last fall, new data revealed that Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park, revered since its 2010 opening as one of the most sustainable skyscrapers in the world, is actually a bigger energy hog than similar New York City buildings. As the first skyscraper to earn a LEED-Platinum certification, the BOA Tower, designed by COOKFOX, was praised by press, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and former Vice President Al Gore, who is currently a tenant. Yet, despite its superb rating and efficiency promises, Sam Roudman of The New Republic reports that the high-rise “produces more greenhouse gases and uses more energy per square foot than any comparably sized office building in Manhattan,” including its similarity with a lower LEED rating, the Goldman Sachs headquarters. Roudman comments that this vast chasm of difference between One Bryant Park’s reality and its expectation can be accredited to the daily operations of the building, namely Bank of America’s several trading floors of constantly running computers. The energy needed to maintain and cool these machines has caused power consumption to spike, but was purposely overlooked during the certification process. Rated under the pretense of the United States Green Building Council’s Core and Shell Program, the Tower gained points for the developer’s energy efficient initiatives and design to the exterior and core—plumbing, mechanical, electrical, etc.—of the building with the claim that the developer had no control over the tenants’ fit-out. The surprising energy use at the Bank of America Tower brings into question requirements for LEED certifications themselves. With a checklist of green initiatives, some as simple as locating its entrance within a half-mile of an existing subway station, or protecting and restoring habitat in Bryant Park, the Program’s environmentally conscious marks leave grey area in their ratings. Surely, Bank of America had an idea that they would be powering hundreds of computers round the clock, yet as a commercial building with other tenants, were allowed to be certified at the highest level of green design.
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As part of an ongoing relationship with the North College Hill school district in Cincinnati, fellow Cincinnatians SFA Architects helped the district consolidate its many facilities into the space of one city block. The combined Middle-High School building, completed in 2010, last week received LEED Platinum certification, making it the third public education facility in Ohio to earn the green building ranking system’s top honor. Completed within budget, the 198,000-square foot project achieved much of its energy savings by employing efficient HVAC equipment and extensive daylighting. Solar panels on the property will produce about five percent of the facility’s energy, with real-time solar power generation data available online. Ohio’s first LEED Platinum school, the London Middle School, designed by SHP Leading Design, was certified in April. That project reduced energy use 42 percent and water usage 40 percent. It also added a 71.2-kilowatt solar array that generates about 15 percent of the school’s yearly needs. Taft Information Technology High School in Cincinnati is also LEED Platinum.
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LEED Gold-certified building protects old documents with a modern mesh designThe new Taylor Family Digital Library houses some of the University of Calgary’s prized documents—more than 800,000 architectural drawings, one million maps and aerial photographs, and thousands of print monographs are among the nine million items in the collection. The university built the library as part of its mission to become one of Canada’s top five research libraries by 2016, the year of its 50th anniversary. But the library also serves the practical goal of protecting the special documents and art collections that were relocated there from other facilities. To that end, architect Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning envisioned the 265,000-square-foot building enshrouded in a veil of mesh that would provide solar protection while creating a semi-transparent facade and day-lit interiors to be enjoyed by students and community members. “Kasian selected the stainless steel mesh used as a screening device on the exterior of the building for three primary reasons,” said Bill Chomik, the project’s principal design architect. “First, the mesh reduced the amount of solar gain into the Information Commons—a glass box intended to be the centerpiece of the library. Second, the mesh diminished glare, and third, the screen leant an interesting and beautiful dimension to the architectural and aesthetic quality of the building.” Kasian worked with architectural mesh design, engineering, and fabrication company Cambridge Architectural to realize the screening system, which partially wraps the building atop a low-profile frame. The project team included general contractor CANA Construction and facade installer Flynn Canada, who consulted on the specification of the facade mesh. The screening system uses 5,630 square feet of a flexible-weave stainless steel mesh that Cambridge calls Mid-Balance for its 52 percent open area. Self-tensioning attachment hardware creates a tailored appearance, concealing the mesh ends within custom-cut apertures in tubing that is then integrated into a steel bracket and structural support system. The tubing creates a slender visual reveal between panels, adding another visual element to the facade's floating geometry. Designed in conjunction with the library building, the Taylor Quadrangle will add new landscaped community space to the Calgary campus; the university’s new High Density Library, located off the main campus, will house 60 percent of the school’s books and journals, along with archives. With a total budget of more than $200 million, the three projects were funded by philanthropists Don and Ruth Taylor and the Canadian government.
If you still think green building is a primarily coastal pursuit, you would be wrong. According to the USGBC, Illinois ranks third in square footage of certified green building per capita in 2011 (2.69 square feet a person) behind the District of Columbia (31.50!) and the state of Colorado (2.74). The leading states are scattered far and wide, with Texas (#8 with 1.99) outranking crunchy California (1.92). New York is even further behind (1.89), just edging out Minnesota's 1.81 square feet per person.
At Lake Mohave, Nevada, the Cottonwood Cove Marina & Resort takes one step further toward ecological sustainability as the first-ever floating building to seek LEED certification. Designed by Carlson Studio Architecture, the structure’s custom fabricated dock will support a houseboat rental business and an engine repair shop. The marina will house the Lake Mead National Recreation Area resort’s office of operations and provide dry storage for its clientele’s boats. The Florida-based architecture firm hopes that the marina will receive Gold level LEED certification. Committed to ecological sustainability and innovation, Carlson Studio Architecture implemented an energy-efficient design. The structure’s SIPS walls and roof protects the interior from direct sunlight and are lined with Photovoltaic panels. The building’s insulated shell and general orientation optimize its energy consumption and costs. Its stucco exterior is composed of reused tires; the decking of rice hulls and recycled plastic. The marina celebrated its LEED registration status at a public event on Monday, June 6th.
Don't Shoot! The New Republic's Sarah Goldhagen takes on architectural photography. Her piece doesn't exactly add much new material to a debate that's as old as photography itself. Much of the piece reads like sage advice from the art history professor who tells students to get their butts down to The Met because the slides don't come close to the real thing. Still, she's no-holds-barred on much maligned medium: "They lie" and "photographs and the photographers who take them unwittingly and willfully misrepresent", etc. Shoot! Once you get through Goldhagen's piece, then segue on to Architect for advice from PR maven Elizabeth Kubany on how to hire an architectural photographer. Mixed in with standard practice procedures (have a preproduction meeting) Kubany dips into current trends, which she refers to as "point of view" photography, i.e.-"chilly modernist perfection" is out "less tidy perspective" is in. Even Goldhagen will love it. Shulman! Enough talking about architectural photography, it's time to take a look at some classics. AN's own Sam Lubell just published a book with Douglas Woods, Julius Shulman Los Angeles: Birth of a Modern Metropolis. (If you're in New York this evening, stop by the Rizzoli Bookstore -- 31 W 57th St. -- at 5:30 for a book signing with Sam!) Architizer has a preview. Killer buildings. LEED certification may have to go the way of the birds. At least that's the way some conservation groups see it. With millions of migrating birds crashing into tall buildings, The Chicago Tribune reports that an extra layer of netting may help LEED buildings stay sensitive to their environmental mission. Solar Heap. The ever morphing PlaNYC has realized yet another initiative. Mayor Bloomberg announced the latest version today (the law requires the plan be updated every four years) and old city landfills get slated for new use. Not another park, not new bike lanes---we're talking solar panel fields. DNA's got the details.
Wren's Dome. Some 300 years ago, Christopher Wren completed St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Now with today's modern icons transforming the city's skyline, the Telegraph pays homage to his lasting landmark amongst the new "Shards, Gherkins and distorted walkie-talkie-shaped skyscrapers." Green Mile High. The Editor-at-Large brings news that the USGBC has named Denver the "greenest" city in the United States with about 230 LEED registered or certified buildings. Two have earned LEED Platinum since 2010. Pike Park. StreetsBlog reports that construction has begun on permanent Pike Street pedestrian improvements to be completed this fall in Manhattan. The project replaces temporary materials DOT installed in 2009 to calm traffic along Pike and Allen streets. Shut Out. Reuter's has the list of the world's most (and least) livable cities ranked by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Vancouver topped the list (Harare, Zimbabwe came in last). No city in the United States managed to break into the top ten.
Block by Block. Brooklyn-based illustrator James Gulliver Hancock is attempting to draw All the Buildings in New York in quite beautiful pen and ink sketches like the one above. Watch a video of the artist explaining his inspirations, style, and how a chained up wheelchair is architecture after the jump. (via Gothamist.) Leeders. Blair Kamin discusses the competitive race to build green among major cities today. Chicago is still number one for the most LEED-certified buildings, but the self-proclaimed "greenest city in America" faces some stiff competition. Aerial. Building Design is running a new series of aerial photos showing progress at the 2012 Olympics site in London. 12,000 workers are reportedly on site working on the main stadium, aquatics center, and arena. Master Plan. Now that South Sudan's national independence has been approved, Sudan Votes reports that the government has revealed a model of a planned new capital city to replace the chaotic regional capital Juba, but not everyone is happy with the move. (via Planetizen.)
Green Boom. Blair Kamin takes a look at the sustainability of two billowing icons in Chicago and New York. Studio Gang's Aqua Tower is going for LEED certification while Frank Gehry's New York tower will not seek the USGBC's approval but claims to be green nonetheless. Kamin notes the importance of such moves, saying of Gehry: "What he, in particular, does--or doesn't do--can have enormous influence, not simply on architects but on developers." Trolley Boom. NPR has a piece on the explosion of streetcars across the country with planned or completed systems in over a dozen cities. Bike Boom. Cycling advocate Elly Blue discusses a new study on Grist stating that bikes deserve their own infrastructure independent from autos. And not just a striped bike lane, Blue notes, but separated lanes called "cycle tracks" like one installed along Brooklyn's Prospect Park West. Soane Boom. The Independent reports on a planned renovation to the Sir John Soane Museum in London, that architect's treasure trove of antiquities and architectural memorabilia from across the world. Plans include opening up a new floor that hasn't been open to the public since Soane died in 1837.
Since opening in 2008, The Green Building in Louisville, Kentucky has been quietly awaiting the verdict on just how sustainable the three-story adaptive reuse project really is. As expected, the 115-year-old former dry goods store designed by California-based (fer) studio announced that the project received LEED Platinum certification, becoming the city's first Platinum building. Owners Augusta and Gill Holland were attracted to the historic building by its potential to transform the once-downtrodden surrounding neighborhood into the city's preeminent arts district dubbed Nulu, or New Louisville. Located just east of downtown, the 10,175 square foot structure houses a mix of uses including a gallery, event space, offices, and a restaurant along the sidewalk. The central focus of The Green Building is, of course, its sustainable features, and the Hollands wanted to create a show piece to demonstrate the full potential of sustainable architecture. Fer Studio peeled away various components of the historic building to create a layered spatial arrangement that maximizes natural lighting and create a modern aesthetic sensibility that pays homage to the building's 19th century craftsmanship. Each piece of the building from the old growth beams and framing to bricks were carefully inventoried and reused throughout the renovation. For instance, structural woodwork was remilled into new flooring and furniture. New materials were locally sourced including Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified white maple panels that accentuate the warm hues of old growth beams. Tucked behind the sidewalk café, a 40-foot-tall lobby opens up The Green Building's upper floors and allows for extra daylight to reach interior spaces. Equipment monitors the natural light level in the lobby and automatically turns synthetic lights on or off to minimize electrical usage. A carefully angled clerestory also helps to maximize natural daylighting while providing dramatic space for offices and a conference room. Green systems in the building are both high- and low-tech. A green roof, three large rain barrels, and a rain garden help store and filter rainwater runoff while dually providing water for irrigation. Insulation in the walls is made from recycled jeans and even the concrete block is made from byproducts of coal burning power plants. The brains of The Green Building, however, are concealed out of sight in the basement. A large ice storage system freezes during off-peak hours and distributes cool air through the building at a fraction of the cost of a traditional air conditioner while in winter, the process is reversed to supplement the geothermal system. To round out the green systems, an 81-panel solar array on the structure's roof helps the facility outperform Kentucky energy codes by up to 65 percent. Gill and Augusta aren't resting on their LEED Platinum laurels, however. The duo is part part owner in 16 adjacent properties that are being renovated with sustainability in mind. They are also planning a permanent farmer's market, a recycling center, and an electric car charging station in coming years. [ Click on a thumbnail below to start the slideshow. ]
Despite its slow gestation, Battery Park City is widely considered a resounding success today, particularly in the areas of sustainable design, which was required of many of the complex's latter day projects. Standing out among even these green stalwarts is the recently completed Riverhouse, designed by Polshek Partnership and shooting for LEED Gold, though the project now provides a bit of a cautionary tale for ambitious developers. According to the Journal, two tenants recently sued the projects' developers for $1.5 million for breach of contract and fraud because the building was deemed not as green as it had been billed. Among the issues:
[The suit] says the owners' engineers "found a deviation of 49%" over the LEED standards "in the cumulative size of holes and cracks allowing infiltration of cold air." The complaint also alleges that air temperature for heating the apartment was too low, which the owners say is a sign that the building isn't maximizing energy efficiency.The paper goes on to suggest that the suit may simply be a means to get out of the now exorbitant $4.2 million three-bedroom apartment. The more important lesson, though, may be on the strengths and weaknesses of sustainability in general and LEED in particular. After all, Riverhouse had once been aiming for the crown of first Platinum-rated residence in the city, yet now it has settled for Gold, a sign of the difficulty in meeting such standards. And yet the findings by the plaintiff's engineers that the project is not even performing at that high level are both surprising and not -- for rarely, if ever, are these buildings tested after the fact. (Then again, who needs to test a building's efficacy when you've got Operation Green to make your case?)
The building's been up and running for two years, but One Bryant Park wasn't finished finished until last Thursday night, when the opening party was held in the cavernous lobby and the U.S. Green Building Council awarded the Dursts with the building's LEED Platinum plaque. Jody Durst kicked things off, thanking everyone for coming, all the people who made the building possible, and the like before introducing Rick Cook, the lead designer for Cook + Fox on the penguin-shaped tower. Before a crowd of a few hundred bankers, real estate types, and other assorted Midtown workadays, Cook probably gave the largest architectural lecture of his career. Cook talked about how important it was to make the building natural and humane, how important it is that the the first thing anyone experiences when they enter the building is nature, granted in the form of wood-inlaid handles on the revolving door. There's the overhanging ceiling that draws the eye out into the park, the fossils scattered throughout the Jerusalem stone tiles on the wall. The crowd's heads swung back-and-forth from one sustainable feature to the next, mouths at once smiling and agape. (To go even deeper inside the building, check out this cool tour our pals at the Observer recently took.) Cook even quoted from Genesis before celebrating the freedom he and his team had had while working on the project: "When we were brought on, they didn't ask for big and green. Instead, the challenge was how do you design at scale in an American city today." He got about the most applause we've ever heard for an architect anywhere. Next up was Al Gore, who mentioned what a big fan he was of the mayor, also in attendance and about to speak. Gore happens to be a tenant in the building, as the offices of his private equity firm are located there, and he mentioned that they had just received their LEED Platinum for interiors certification that day, and entreating everyone to do the same while reciting the old saw about buildings eating up 30-plus percent of the world's energy. Then, the head of anchor tenant Bank of America's sustainability efforts got up for some back patting and to announce a $125,000 grant to fund 100 gardens at public schools in the city, part of a new initiative. Then came the plaque, and with the speechifying done, a champagne toast and back to our "locally sourced" mojitos.