Showing posts from category: buildings
As you are climbing uphill; what seems like a continuous climb throughout the many hills of Parc Guell, you bravely steel a glance or two downwards and think that this is it. This must be one of the more beautiful experiences of your life. Gingerly you take each step with your camera in hand, careful not to drop the camera or anything else as you find yourself looking at, well, everything. It’s an overwhelming experience, and in a good way. Earlier in the year, my dad passed away, thereby making this my first vacation in a decade where I did not suffer from any family distractions. No worries, but did I ever miss him! I still do. But it was one less thing to ponder as I was transversing uneven stone steps with nary a handrail in sight. But I was just starting to speak of the beauty about this park, a must-see for anyone who travels to Barcelona, when I hit a few detours. Count Guell was a prominent businessman in Barcelona at the early part of the last century. He engaged a prominent architect, Antoni Gaudi, to design a garden city with sixty houses on a hill called Montana Pelada. The venture was not successful and only two houses were built. But an unsuccessful venture led way to one of the more beautiful parks you will ever see. At the entrance, you will find the main staircase with a dragon fountain made of broken bits of glazed ceramic tile, a signature style for Gaudi. This leads to the Salon of a Hundred Columns which really number eighty-four, but who cares? The ceiling of the salon has more tiled mosaics. In fact, they’re everywhere in sight. The on-site museum contains splendid furniture that Gaudi designed. And so it goes; you’ve walked for three hours, and have a big smile on your face. You can’t wait to tell the story to all you know.
You’ve planned a week in Barcelona because you are wise and know that you will not be bored for a second. You will want to come back. As you continue drinking in the various Gaudi shrines throughout this beautiful city, you get to understand a bit more about the architect with each building. Casa Batllo is truly amazing and I would suggest to go early in the day to avoid crowds. The details on the doorknobs and locks; the center court and other means of ventilation were ahead of their time. The rooftop dragon is not to be believed. Next up is Casa Mila, his iconic monument to the Modernist movement. It does not seem very livable, but once again, it’s all in the details. The Sagrada Familia is no problem for anyone familiar with waiting on lines at Disney. Wear comfortable shoes! If you are able to go to the top of the towers, then you are lucky for you will view this beautiful city in the most unique way and it is breathtaking.
Okay, I lied. It’s not all about Gaudi. It’s also about the food. As I’m re-reading my diary, the secondary descriptions that do constant battle with architecture are of the fantastic food. As I read about the various meals of fish, meats and risotto, my mouth waters and I desire to savor them all over again. Since we are incapable of dining at 10:00 PM, we chose instead to have our main meals of the day at lunch and have a more casual al fresco experience in the evening.
I lied some more. It’s all about the walk. Ever since I was twenty and I traveled to San Francisco with friends, I have always made note of how compatible I am with the place I am visiting. San Francisco was fine but I quickly realized I couldn’t live with Californians. In Barcelona, at some point we stopped and thought, “could I live here?” Yes was the answer. It is walkable; it is friendly; it is safe and clean; it is modern; it is old. Barcelona is ideal. The week was brimming over with a travelogue of lists consisting of everywhere we ambled and places we didn’t quite get to at this time. Maybe, next time? Because there was so much good stuff that really good architects had the sense to design and get built all in walking distance of each other. More Gaudi, so much to see in the Gothic Quarter as you walk past what is left of a Roman aqueduct, the Picasso Museum and the Palau de la Musica Catalana (a music hall with a gorgeous stained glass ceiling). And then there’s Gehry’s Fish. Barcelona’s golden fish sculpture sits in Port Olimpic at the base of one of the tallest buildings in the city. Frank Gehry was commissioned to build the piece for the 1992 Summer Olympics and brought the city to the attention of the world! Wow!
aia, architect, architects, architecture, architecture critic, Art, buildings, built environment, Design, Engineering, modern architecture, modern buildings, new buildings, Sculpture
architects, architecture, Barcelona, Disney, Frank Gehry, Gaudi, Gehry, Palau de la Musica Catalana, Parc Guell, Picasso Museum, Spain
north eastern corner overlooking the northern forecourt. images courtesy lyons, dianna snape, michael evans, nils koenning
the la trobe institute for molecular science (LIMS) by australian lyons architecture is a major new building on university’s bundoora campus, which will meet the school’s long-term needs in terms of student learning and research in the science disciplines. the project seeks a‘transformative’ identity of the campus, which had previously been built within the strict guidelines for materials and heights.
the lower levels of the building accommodate first to third year undergraduate learning spaces – with large open flexible labs (accommodating teaching cohorts for 160 students) connected with ‘dry’ learning spaces. this allows people to move between laboratory based project work, to digital and collaborative learning activities within the adjacent spaces. at ground level, these learning areas breakout to new landscaped interior environments, extending the idea of placing students at the centre of outside social and learning hubs.
the upper three levels of the building are research focused and based around a highly collaborative model. all laboratories are large open flexible spaces where teams are able to work together, or expand and contract according to research funds. these large ‘super labs’ are located immediately adjacent to write-up spaces, allowing a very direct physical and visual connection between all research work sections. the plan includes a major conference room, staff ‘college’ lounge and informal meeting spaces, are also located on the research levels. the design is fully integrated with the adjacent existing structure, which accommodates a number of other lims research staff and laboratories.
a major stairway rises through the centre of the building, connecting the student and research levels – as a form of representation of the ‘pathway’. the cellular exterior of the building is derived from ideas about expressing the molecular research that is being undertaken within the building, and is adjusted via the materiality of the building itself. the walls are primarily precast concrete, with the cells providing a ‘lower’ and ‘upper’ window into the various spaces, aiding the penetration of daylight. the cellular concept also creates a framework for a number of distinctive spaces for students to occupy or for research staff to meet and collaborate.
Continue reading on DesignBoom
architect, architects, architecture, architecture critic, Art, buildings, Consulting For Architects, Design, modern architecture, modern buildings, Sculpture
bundoora campus, climate, designboom, interior environments, la trobe institute for molecular science, lyons architects, research, science, science disciplines
While many architects and engineers have been vying to construct the world’s tallest tower, a group in China has looked to build in the opposite direction.
Construction began last month on Shanghai’s first “groundscraper”—a structure built almost completely below the surface. The massive project will eventually take form as the InterContinental Shimao Shanghai Wonderland, a 19-story, 380-room luxury hotel surrounded by a 428,000 square-meter theme park.
The hotel broke ground about 30 miles from the city of Shanghai in an abandoned quarry at the foot of Tianmashan Mountain. The building, located in the district of Songjiang, will be grafted onto the side of the quarry with 16 floors descending down and three floors resting above the crater.
Just as the top levels of a skyscraper are often filled with elegant restaurants and the most luxurious of rooms, the bottom two floors of the groundscraper will include an underwater restaurant, an athletic complex for water sports and 10-meter deep aquarium.
The quarry’s surrounding cliffs will be used for extreme sports like bungee jumping and rock climbing.
The project’s developers at the Shimao Property Group worked with British engineering firm Atkins to bring the idea to fruition and expect to near completion in late 2014 or early 2015.
The theme park and hotel are expected to cost at least $555 million and nightly room rates should start at approximately $320.
architecture, buildings, built environment, Green Architecture, Green Built Environment, Landscape Architecture, modern architecture, modern buildings, Sculpture
architecture, Atkins, China, Hotels, InterContinental Shimao Shanghai Wonderland, room luxury hotel, Shimao Property Group, skyscraper, Tianmashan Mountain, travel
The Taiwan Tower is a Sustainable Twin Syscraper for the 21st Century The Taiwan Tower is a proposal by Vienna-based architect Steven Ma in Collaboration with San Liu, Xinyu Wan, and Emre Icdem. This highly innovative project consists of a set of super slim twin towers that reach a height of 350 meters where an observatory and sky-park is located. The plinth of the towers is formed by an intrica…te set of museums that will exhibit Taiwan’s past, present, and future. Each of the three museums configures itself around recreational areas that include a water plaza, an outdoor theatre, a green house, and an event plaza. Another interesting feature is the location of four different types of hanging gardens along the towers’ structure with high-end residences and an aviary for endangered bird species. Among the sustainable features, the Taiwan Tower is equipped with water recycling plants, wind turbines, and a beautiful set of photovoltaic cells placed along the sky-garden and on top of the museums’ undulating surfaces.
architects, architecture, buildings, built environment, carbon-neutral office building, Design, eco building, Green Architecture, green buildings, Green Built Environment, modern architecture, modern buildings, new buildings, skyscraper
Emre Icdem, San Liu, Steven Ma, Taiwan Tower, Xinyu Wan
Unable to line up tenants, developer to cap his second Trade Center tower at seventh floor.
Developer Larry Silverstein is planning to halt construction by the end of the year on the second of the two towers he is currently building at the World Trade Center site if he can’t find a major office tenant, sources close to the company said.
Minor modifications have already been made to the ongoing construction of the tower that will allow it to be capped at the seventh floor—73 short of its planned height. Retail tenants would be sought for the seven-story podium.
If Mr. Silverstein finds a tenant before the tower is capped, he can go ahead and complete what will be known as 3 World Trade Center, although there might be some delays, depending on when the deal is struck. The building was slated to be completed in 2015.
Mr. Silverstein is not currently close to signing a tenant, sources said. The building’s cap can be removed and construction can resume after he finds one. Mr. Silverstein’s spokesman declined to comment.
The move to cap the tower stems from a 2010 agreement between the developer and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, the site’s owner, to end a long-running feud. Under the deal, Mr. Silverstein has to pre-lease 400,000 square feet in his second tower, line up $300 million of private equity and secure private construction financing in order to qualify for debt guarantees from the Port, the city and the state.
But amid financial tumult in Europe, a weak U.S. economy and a cooling in the city’s office-leasing environment, Mr. Silverstein has been unable to attract a tenant. Experts say his near-term prospects are dim.
“The willingness of large-scale tenants to commit in this environment is limited because companies don’t want to go out and spend a lot of money,” said Peter Hennessy, president of Cassidy Turley’s New York Tristate Region. “It’s not the building; it’s the market.”
Cheaper to stay put
Despite a host of government incentives to lure firms to lower Manhattan, Mr. Hennessy estimates that a 400,000-square-foot tenant would need to spend about $100 million just to outfit an office. Faced with those kinds of costs in a lackluster economy, Mr. Hennessy said, it’s likely that more companies might opt to renew their current leases.
Morgan Stanley, for example, has been searching for months for between 1 million and 1.4 million square feet. Now, sources said, the bank is very close to renewing its lease at 1 New York Plaza and taking some additional space there, which would be a much more cost-effective option.
While other big companies—including Time Warner, News Corp. and Credit Suisse—continue to prowl the market for huge digs, their ranks are thinning. Last year, the number of tenants seeking more than 100,000 square feet tumbled 23%, from 74 to 57, according to Cushman & Wakefield Inc.
To land tenants, Mr. Silverstein faces competition from both existing buildings and other planned state-of-the-art towers. Related Cos. and Oxford Properties Group are seeking tenants for their massive project at the Hudson Yards west of Penn Station, while Brookfield Office Properties wants to lure firms to the 7.4 million-square-foot complex it plans in the same neighborhood. In addition, by the end of next year, as several large tenants move out, Brookfield will have 2.8 million square feet of space available at its World Financial Center—37% of its total—across West Street from Mr. Silverstein’s towers.
Seeing is believing
Sources say Mr. Silverstein’s tower has an advantage over other planned projects for now: Tenants can actually see the start of the building and visit the World Trade Center site. In contrast, except for one building, Related has to build a huge platform over the rail yards before it can start construction, as does Brookfield. That requires tenants with the imagination to envision the finished product and the confidence to take a chance that the neighborhood can be successfully transformed into a premier office market.
In addition, all three landlords are seeking tenants at a time when they are getting more skittish. While overall activity rose 16% last year, the amount of space leased in the second half of the year fell by 31% from the first half of 2011, and was down nearly 10% from the corresponding period in 2010.
Of course, large deals get done even during choppy times. Two months ago, luxury leather-goods maker Coach agreed to be the anchor tenant for a new tower at Hudson Yards. And just last week, publishing giant Condé Nast exercised its option to lease an additional 133,000 square feet at 1 World Trade Center. That will bring the publisher’s total to 1.19 million square feet in that building, which is being developed by the Port Authority and the Durst Organization.
But sources said the Condé Nast deal was heavily subsidized by the Port because it wanted a strong anchor tenant to establish 1 World Trade Center as a premier corporate location. For example, the Port has agreed to assume the last four or five years of Condé Nast’s lease at its current headquarters at 4 Times Square.
Mr. Silverstein has the right to build three office buildings on the World Trade Center site. The first, 4 WTC, is a 72-story building that is due to be completed next year. About 60% of it is leased. Below-ground infrastructure work is being done on the third tower that is expected to end soon, but the building is on hold indefinitely.
David Goldstein, an executive vice president at Studley, said it’s possible that Mr. Silverstein may find a tenant as firms seek to take advantage of the current environment.
“There are lots of opportunities in this market,” said Mr. Goldstein. “And I wouldn’t count Larry out.”
architecture, architecture jobs, buildings, Hiring trends, jobs, modern architecture, new buildings, recession, unemployed architects
debt guarantees, Larry Silverstein, office leasing, peter hennessy, retail tenants, term prospects, tower line, WTC
Last spring, developer Related Cos. became disenchanted with the design of the first phase of Hudson Yards, the gargantuan project on top of a train storage yard along the Hudson River.
The original design of Hudson Yards had three straight boxy towers.
“I could tell that Stephen wasn’t in love with it,” recalls Jay Cross, who oversees the project for Related, referring to the developer’s chairman, Stephen Ross. “He felt he wanted the buildings to be more dramatic. And we found that the marketplace was looking for bigger buildings.”
That made for a busy summer for Related and its architect William Pedersen, one of the name partners at the firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. The result, which was recently unveiled, is an improvement in terms of the interactions of the buildings if not in the aesthetics of the buildings themselves.
With 26 acres and more than 12 million square feet of potential developable space overtop Hudson Yards competes with the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site as New York’s current, highest-profile development effort. Related has signed a deal with handbag-maker Coach Inc. to move its headquarters into 600,000 square feet in the south tower.
A new rendering shows two jagged towers
Kohn Pedersen’s original first-phase design called for three boxy steel office towers, the shortest one in the middle, along the east side of the site. Each building had the same square-jawed look of consternation: renderings showed stacks of long, plain blocks of steel and concrete arrayed to look like a cubist abstraction, or a screenshot from Tetris, the old block-stacking video-game. In between was to be four stories of retail space centered around a large glass box with a cyclone-shaped structure.
The design wasn’t terrible. But it wasn’t the sort of arresting, statement-making architecture that one would expect a next-big-thing type of project. KPF’s early designs for the buildings were like Buckingham Palace bobbies: standing straight and erect, faces constant, but not saying much of anything at all.
The new plan for phase one, recently unveiled, describes a much different composition. The 30-story middle building is gone. New renderings show two jagged towers—the more northerly one 67 stories and sloping diagonally toward the city, the other, 51 stories and angled towards the Hudson—that slash through the skyline. Connecting the two buildings will be eight stories of retail and trading-floor space.
Hudson Yard’s New look Slideshow
The two office towers are disappointing as stand-alone buildings. Like most modern office towers they are brash and arrogant instead of being noble and poised. Their form is shard-like: all harsh angles with a jaggedness that evokes crystals or canyon rock formations.
But the new design helps make up for this in the way the office buildings interact. The mirror-image slopes of the two buildings, which would regard one another differently from nearly every angle of viewing, give viewers the sensation of two dancers in the midst of a paso doble. The southern building, which would house Coach, is, sensibly, the female of the pair —slightly shorter, with the atrium manifested as a slit in the dancer’s ball gown, giving a glimpse of a flash of leg underneath.
Mr. Pedersen talks frequently of the “responsibility of tall buildings” to interact rationally with the urban context around them. The towers, through their interplay, emphasize the presence of a long, open, park space—set to run east-west from the towers to the river—that will go in between them.
“The buildings have to be able to, by their internal biology, create social connections,” Mr. Pedersen says. “Too many buildings around the world have independent, sculptural shapes. The effect here is to connect the building directly to the city.”
This intent is certainly palpable in the design. And if Related eventually ends up landing another signature tenant for the north tower, the plan will be realized, and the two buildings will go ahead and dance their way around the fabric of the city’s newest cluster of statement-making skyscrapers.
architect, architects, architecture, architecture jobs, buildings, construction, Design, Hiring trends, jobs, modern architecture, modern buildings, new buildings, recession, unemployed architects
KPF, Related Companies, William Pedersen
The controversial 52-story skyscraper just north of the World Trade Center has finally been fully leased. Developer Larry Silverstein announced Monday that MSCI, a provider of investment decision support tools, would occupy the remaining floors 47 through 49, the AP.
Bernstein had long had troule attracting tenants in part because Seven World Center came under fire for opening too quickly at the site of the old World Trade Center Building 7 — the last building to collapse in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
But the site was also the focus of many conspiracy theories, all of which pointed out that Building 7 was the first known building to collapse as a result of uncontrolled fires, and some of which claimed that the U.S. government had been behind the attacks.
The building also cost a pretty penny, with tenants paying the highest prices ever paid downtown — several above $70 a square foot.
Source: The Washington Post
architecture, architecture jobs, buildings, Hiring trends, Interior design, jobs, Landscape Architecture, modern architecture, new buildings, recession, unemployed architects
Larry Silverstein, Seven World Trade Center
While the economy has stabilized in some regards, architects are still suffering.
Just when it seemed that the architecture industry might be pulling out of its tailspin, some key economic indicators are suggesting that a recovery might take longer than expected.
The Architecture Billings Index, a measure of the industry’s health compiled by the American Institute of Architects, has dipped below 50 for three consecutive months, posting scores of 47.6 (April), 47.2 (May), and 46.3 (June). Those dips came after five straight months of the ABI hovering at or above 50, a sign of increased activity.
Moreover, Engineering News-Record’s Construction Industry Confidence Index—based on surveys sent to contractors, subcontractors, engineers and architects—fell five points in the second quarter of 2011, from 51 to 46.
That data doesn’t surprise architect Charles Dalluge of the Omaha-based firm Leo A. Daly, which has 31 offices around the world. Even though some architects were publicly predicting that “it would be heaven in 2011,” he says, a lot of firms are still suffering.
And he might know. In June, his firm laid off 50 employees from various offices, including architects and engineers. Dalluge defends the move as part of a “strategic repositioning” that will result in the hiring of 50 workers with specialties in areas of growth, such as healthcare. The firm now has 900 employees.
But even a healthcare focus may not be enough to keep some firms alive. In June, Karlsberger, a Columbus, Ohio-based healthcare-focused firm, closed after 83 years in business. None of the firm’s managers would comment on the shuttering, which is believed to have resulted in 40 job cuts. A statement on its website, however, blamed the state of the market for its woes. “Our level of revenues are insufficient for us to meet our ongoing obligations,” it says.
Karlsberger’s former president, Mitchel Levitt, who resigned in April 2010 after 31 years, told RECORD that the firm lost a major lawsuit that made it difficult to go on. The suit was brought against Ohio State University, one of Karlsberger’s largest clients, over the school’s termination of a contract for a $1 billion medical center expansion; the lawsuit was dismissed in December. “It probably hurt them,” Levitt said in an interview conducted in June. “But I thought they had done what they needed to do to continue to operate.”
While the new office building market may show few signs of turnaround, especially while jobs are scarce, a bright spot appears to be college work. Many schools’ endowments were wiped out in the recession but are now being replenished by a robust stock market, which means that many stalled university projects are back on track.
Indeed, the economic downturn suspended a renovation of Yale’s 1928 Swartwout Building, designed by Egerton Swartout. But that project recently resumed, says Richard Olcott, partner at New York-based Ennead Architects, which is overseeing the renovation. Olcott adds that his firm didn’t lay off any workers during the recession; in fact, it hired 40 people in the last year, including architects, for a grand total of 160 employees.
Even public universities, once hurt by dwindling tax-collection revenues, are restarting projects, according to Ayers Saint Gross, a Baltimore design firm at work on a once-stalled science building for the University of Delaware.
The firm added 18 people last year and is now looking to hire five more, including architects. It now has 130 employees, its highest-ever headcount, said Adam Gross, a principal. “I think the indicators are pretty serious,” he said, referring to the ABI and other worrisome data, “but not as serious as we experienced” in the fall of 2008.
Source Architectural Record
aia, architect, architects, architecture, architecture jobs, buildings, construction, Design, Hiring trends, jobs, recession, starting a business, unemployed architects
Beacon Capital Partners signs 99-year lease to erect a 350,000-square-foot building with office and retail space at 330 Hudson St. It’s the second big deal in two months for Beacon.
Link to building site here
Trinity Real Estate signed a 99-year lease with an affiliate of Beacon Capital Partners to build an office building at the stalled development site at 330 Hudson St.
It is Beacon’s second investment in New York City in two months. In May, it signed a contact to buy between 70% and 80% of landmarked 195 Broadway from L&L Holding and its capital partner, GE Pension Trust, sources familiar with the transaction said.
Financial terms of Beacon’s deal with Trinity were not disclosed. The Boston-based real estate investment firm is planning an approximate 350,000-square-foot office building, including about 20,000 square feet of retail space at its base. Plans call for incorporating the site’s existing eight-story former warehouse into the new building, according to a Thursday statement by Trinity.
The proposed building is “as-of-right” and requires no zoning changes.
“We are delighted to welcome a company with the strength, experience and track record of Beacon Capital Partners to Hudson Square,” said Jason Pizer, president of Trinity Real Estate, in a statement. “They are committed to moving forward expeditiously on this key property, and we are confident the development will add immeasurably to the quality, vitality and excitement of this dynamic community.”
Several years ago Trinity leased the building to Tribeca Associates, which had planned to build a hotel on the site. However, Trinity took the site back last year after a nasty legal battle.
“With several new hotels in the area, the current proposed office/retail mix is clearly the most attractive and compelling development option,” Mr. Pizer said. He also pointed out that recent leasing activity throughout the portfolio offers another strong indication of Hudson Square’s promising future.
Meanwhile, Trinity had been negotiating for Pearson, the British media giant, to move into 330 Hudson St., sources said. It is unclear if those negotiations are still continuing.
Pearson would be a good fit for Trinity, which has turned its holdings in Hudson Square, just north of the Holland Tunnel entrance, into a mecca for media and creative firms. Pearson, whose holdings include Penguin Books and Financial Times, has offices in at least two buildings in New York: 1330 Sixth Ave. and 375 Hudson St.
Beacon, whose local holdings include 1211 Sixth Ave., was established in January 1998 and has sponsored seven investment vehicles with $11 billion in capital since its inception. Sources have said it is considering selling 1211 Sixth Ave.
architecture, buildings, construction, new buildings, recession
Beacon Capital Partners, Financial Times, GE Pension Trust, Jason Pizer, L&L Holding, Pearson, Penguin Books, Tribeca Associates, Trinity Real Estate
Retrofitting commercial buildings is quickly becoming the growth market in the building industry.
The shift from building new commercial spaces was bound to turn from erecting sparkling new mega-buildings on greenfields to retrofitting run-down but still valuable older buildings in good locations close to transportation or other amenities.
No one knows this better than the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Its LEED green building certification is often called upon to rate these buildings. To date, more than 40,000 projects participate in the commercial and institutional rating systems of USGBC, which represents 7.9 billion square feet of construction space.
Ashley Katz, communications manager for USGBC notes that many of these commercial ratings are for existing buildings. “LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance has seen explosive growth since 2008. More certifications are awarded under [the existing buildings program] on a square-footage basis than any other LEED rating system. And this is important because existing buildings make up the vast majority of the U.S. building stock.”
As a result of this growth, LEED projects are predominately existing buildings that have received certification based on verified energy performance. “We believe that the rapid uptake of this tool signals that the market is becoming increasingly aware of energy performance and is ready to move further toward even higher levels of performance,” Katz says.
USGBC’s experience is backed up by research. The McKinsey & Company report, “Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy,” which addresses reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, states that existing buildings will make money and will meet 85% of our new energy demand through 2030.
And the 2009 McGraw Hill Construction’s “SmartMarket Report” estimated that the green building retrofit and renovation market was 5%–9% by value, or a $2–$4 billion marketplace for major retrofit projects. By 2014, that share is expected to increase to 20%–30%, representing a $10–$15 billion market for major projects.
Katz points out the Adobe Systems project in Northern California as particularly representative of the retrofit commercial projects and why they are growing and will continue to grow: Adobe spent $1.4 million on 64 separate projects and received $389,000 in rebates, $1.2 million in annual savings, reported a 10-month payback, and 121% ROI.
These kinds of numbers are valuable for companies that need to see a strong ROI and must defend spending in a still-recovering economy.
Another example of a retrofit with a solid bottom line is the Armstrong World Industries’ corporate headquarters in Lancaster, Pa. Originally constructed in 1998, the glass and steel building was recently rehabbed for $138,000. Company leadership believes it will recoup that money in three years. For its outlay of money, the company got:
- waterless urinals, dual-flush toilets, and water sensors for the faucets so the company could greatly reduce its water footprint. Those changes and a fix to the humidification process reduced the annual use of water from 800,000 to 420,000 gallons
- occupancy sensors
- the purchase of 2 million kWh of wind power, which provides 75% of the project’s electricity use
- landscape with low-maintenance plants, no irrigation, and a catch basin that slows stormwater release.
Another project, the Joe Serna Jr. California EPA Headquarters Building in Sacramento, Calif., studied its investment in LEED Platinum certification and found it had increased its asset value by $12 million (for a $500,000 investment), while diverting 200+ tons of waste from the landfill and enjoying a building that was better than a third more energy efficient than California’s 1998 energy code.
The team for that project actually took on some untraditional methods, such as a vermicomposting program (worm composting), which diverts more than 10 tons of waste from landfills, and saves $10,000 annually. Plus, by eliminating garbage can liners and using reusable cloth bags in centrally located recycling bins, the headquarters saves $80,000 per year.
While success stories abound in the retrofit of existing buildings, some pundits warn of the potential “post-fossil-fuel age,” where many commercial buildings, high-rise buildings in particular, will be hard to maintain and may be abandoned for easier to maintain buildings.
In an interview with with Grist.com’s Kerry Trueman, James Howard Kuntsler, author of The Long Emergency, among many other books, warns of the impact of a capital scarce, energy-scarce future on mega-structures, which serves as a reminder that builders and owners must consider how buildings will weather an uncertain future where materials or energy might be scarce or expensive.
“The skyscraper is obsolete,” Kuntsler claims. “The main reason we’re done with skyscrapers is not because of the electric issues or heating-cooling issues per se, but because they will never be renovated! They are one-generation buildings. We will not have the capital to renovate them—and all buildings eventually require renovation. We likely won’t have the fabricated modular materials they require, either—everything from the manufactured sheet-rock to the silicon gaskets and sealers needed to keep the glass curtain walls attached.
“From now on, we need desperately to tone down our grandiosity. … Our cities have attained a scale that is inconsistent with the economic and energy realities of the future. The optimum building height, we will re-discover, is the number of stories most healthy people can comfortably walk up.”
USGBC just released its list of top ten states in the United States for LEED-certified projects in 2010.
The top LEED states per capita, including the District of Columbia:
• District of Columbia: 25.15 square feet
• Nevada: 10.92 square feet
• New Mexico: 6.35 square feet
• New Hampshire: 4.49 square feet
• Oregon: 4.07 square feet
• South Carolina: 3.19 square feet
• Washington: 3.16 square feet
• Illinois: 3.09 square feet
• Arkansas: 2.9 square feet
• Colorado: 2.85 square feet
• Minnesota: 2.77 square feet
Of the projects represented on the list, the most-common project type was commercial office and the most-common owner type was for-profit organization. The cities most represented in the list were Chicago and Washington, D.C.
Photo credit: As a certified LEED Platinum facility, Armstrong’s corporate headquarters became only the sixth existing building (and the first outside of California) to achieve LEED’s highest level of certification.
Via GreenBuilder Mag