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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Ribbon-thin Ductal concrete creates sculptural seating at a San Francisco eatery.The Aidlin Darling-designed Bar Agricole has brought new life to a warehouse in San Francisco’s industrial South of Market neighborhood. Built in 1912, the renovated building is now home to the 4,000-square-foot “urban tavern” owned by restaurateur Thad Vogler. Taking an unconventional approach to realizing his design vision, Vogler commissioned work from the designer and a variety of trades in exchange for a stake in the business. One of those craftsmen was Oakland-based concrete design and fabrication company Concreteworks. Concrete isn’t the first material that comes to mind when designing restaurant seating, but Joshua Aidlin envisioned ribbon-thin fixed banquettes extruding from the wooden “hull” that would form one wall of the interior. The seats would complement other concrete elements, including the integrally colored concrete floor and board-formed concrete bars, but they would be made from an ultra-high performance fiber-reinforced concrete called Ductal. Developed by Canadian cement manufacturer Lafarge, the high-strength material is gaining increasing popularity for applications like furniture, facades, and other architectural design elements. With a guaranteed lifespan of 50 years, the material has four to eight times the compression strength of conventional concrete, allowing it to be used for very slender, lightweight structures. Working in their 12,000-square-foot, pre-World War II manufacturing facility, the Concreteworks team created metal formwork for the banquette’s dark gray Ductal elements; the at 5-by-5-by-5- foot pieces are formed with a seat on either side of a parabolic backrest. The entire cast form is only one inch thick. A special form with one seat and one flat side was made for the end of the seating row, and the curling base of each banquette is also cast from a separate mold. A three-piece host stand topped with two-inch reclaimed oak mirrors the seats, which are topped with slender, curving pieces of oak for comfort. Like the restaurant’s reclaimed elements and locally fabricated materials, Ductal will help the project achieve LEED Platinum certification because it requires fewer raw materials and limits fabrication waste.
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. ]
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.
It's official: design students at Iowa State University learn their craft in a LEED Platinum facility. The King Pavilion is the third Platinum building in Iowa, and one of the only design school buildings in the country to reach this highest level of certification. Designed by RDG Planning & Design of Des Moines, the wing features a green roof, extensive daylighting, blue jean insulation and other recycled building materials, among other sustainable strategies. Click through for more photos.