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[Video] Greening the Office, 7 World Trade Center

This is a quality video by Wall Street Journal’s Dana Mattioli featuring Andrew Shapiro, founder and CEO of GreenOrder.  GreenOrder is a sustainable marketing and strategy firm that’s been called the "Green McKinsey" on occasion.  Shapiro takes Mattioli through 7 World Trade Center, explaining the building’s several green aspects, including the rainwater reclamation system, floor-to-ceiling windows, design for natural lighting, and white roof.  You’ll notice also the layout of employees, which is a little more collaborative and fluid.  Experts laud these open layouts as a way to do more with less space, and thereby, save materials.  I’m still unsure as to whether tighter quarters can be more effective, especially with the extra noise and commotion — I definitely think it depends on the job type.  It probably reduces internet usage, though.

Block 21, Super Green Platinum Austin (S2)

Whotel Austin recently witnessed the groundbreaking of Block 21, a $260 million mixed-use development in downtown being built to platinum certification under the USGBC’s LEED program.  Block 21 includes a 250-room W Hotel® and 200 residential condominiums, a new television studio for the world- renowned Austin City Limits, a 2,200 seat live music venue, the Austin Children’s Museum Dell Discovery Center, retail space, restaurants, and an open-air public plaza.  The project is expected to be one of the first mixed-use developments in the world built to this level of LEED standards. 

The 35-story building will include the five-star W Hotel on the lower levels and 200 units of residential condos on the upper levels.  The 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom condos will range in size from 643 to 3,183 sf, with top-of-the-line, luxury finishouts.  The development will also include a state-of-the-art spa, a signature restaurant, and 47,000 sf of retail space. 

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A Thermally Efficient Matrix of Buildings (S2)

Abu Dhabi Plaza A few days ago, Foster + Partners released design details of their newest mixed-use project in Astana, Kazakhstan — Abu Dhabi Plaza.  This clustered matrix of multi-level buildings will include retail, leisure, hotel, office, and residential uses.  David Nelson, Senior Executive and Head of Design at Foster + Partners said, "We are extremely excited to be working on this important project for Astana that will provide a new urban destination – visually and functionally. The design has resulted from a rigorous analysis of the city’s extreme climate, which has generated the unusual cluster diagram and has determined a façade that is both distinctive and highly efficient."  In this geography, the temperature can get as cold as -40 degrees Celsius, and Foster + Partners found that the compact situation of buildings helped to maximize thermal insulation during the harsh winter months.  The development also includes a series of temperate, year-round gardens with a network of sheltered pedestrian routes throughout the site.  Light shafts between the blocks will have laminated glass panels that shower colorful light, shadows, and patterns on the lower levels.

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