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The Austonian to be Green, Austin's Tallest Tower (S2)

The Austonian

In a city known for its aversion to development and proudly celebrated with the phrase "Keep Austin Weird," what does it take to get the go ahead approvals on what will be the tallest tower in the skyline?  Quite simply, a commitment to green building.  The Austonian, developed by Benchmark Development and designed by Ziegler Cooper Architects, is going to be one of a kind in Austin.  And judging by the renderings, it’s going to tower over everything else in the city, too.  The 56-floor building will have 188 residential condominiums, with pricing from $550,000 (rough revenue analysis = 188 * $550k = $103.4 M).  But there’s also going to be some ground floor retail, and according to Emporis, construction is expected to be complete in 2009.

The Austonian will be built to Austin’s well-known Green Building Program, with features such as a rainwater capture system; high-performance, low-E glass walls; Mecho-Shades; and Energy Star-rated appliances.  There’s also going to be an urban garden a first-class fitness room on the top floor.  The tower will feature a glass and aluminum “skin” that is layered to provide depth to its slender shape.  So, all in all, it looks good and if you’re going to build high, at least it’s in the middle of downtown. 

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330 Hudson Street, Sustainable Design + Historic Preservation (S2)

330 Hudson Street Developer Tribeca Associates has chosen Brennan Beer Gorman Architects (BBG Architects) to design the overhaul of an historic 1910 warehouse building.  At a price of $220 million, the existing structure will be redeveloped into 292,000 sf of office space, with 12 stories of new hotel space rising from the office pedestal.  There will be a small portion of retail space and the hotel will be one of the few Silver LEED Certified buildings in the U.S.  Located at 330 Hudson Street (324-344 Hudson) in the downtown Hudson Square area of Manhattan, the new structure will combine sustainable design and historic preservation in a powerful 22-story package.  The iconic masonry exterior of the existing structure will undergo meticulous restoration, and the finished structure will include amenities such as event space, rooftop pool, sky bar, signature restaurant, outdoor terraces, conference center, and a fitness center.  Via Wired NY.

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Seattle Off-Grid Concept Combines Chickens, Crops + Sustainable Living (S2)

Center for Urban Agriculture

In the heart of Seattle, the design professionals at Mithun see a farm rising vertically into the sky.  Although it may never be built, the Center for Urban Agriculture (CUA) won “Best of Show” in the Cascadia Region Green Building Council’s Living Building Challenge.  Vertically constructed on a .72 acre site, the off-grid building is designed to be completely energy and water sufficient and will include 318 affordable apartments (studio – 2 bedroom).  And on top of that, there will be greenhouses, rooftop gardens, a chicken farm, and fields for growing vegetables and grains. 

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SG Blocks Rolling Out Safe, Green Building System

Fort Bragg Container Home

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of discussing the phenomenon of container housing with David Cross, Chief Business Development Officer for SG Blocks LLC.  SG Blocks, short for Safe and Green, is a sustainable building system made from containers.  Going beyond the trendy fascination with exposed container architecture design–modern, industrial, and extremely good looking, in my opinion, SG Blocks intends to use containers as a fundamental component to building construction.  A container home doesn’t necessarily have to look like a container home (that’s up to you), but it can have all the same advantages: comfortable, strong, green, and affordable.   

The home you see above is an example of container modules being used on a traditional home as a framing system.  From the outside or inside, you’re not going to know that it was built with container modules.  The cost of framing a home built with SG Blocks is about $22-30 psf, which is roughly comparable to other forms of construction.  BUT did you know that recycling containers into steel beams takes nearly 8,000 kW of energy at a cost of roughly $800?  Rather, it takes about 400 kW of energy to turn containers into a home.  At about 5% of the energy when compared to straight recycling, that’s not bad.  And right now, SG Blocks is in the process of rolling out their building system nationally.

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Portland City Storage Brings Big Solar (S2)

Portland City Storage

I sat on this post for a while trying to find up-to-date information on its status but was unable to locate anything.  This is a storage facility planned for the east bank of the Willamette River.  Typical storage facilities can take up to 30 acres, but this one, designed for house boats, recreational vehicles, and storage pods, is going to be maxed out on 3 acres.  The taller tower rises 22 stories into the sky and uses a giant mechanical arm capable of lifting 40,000 lbs.  Interestingly, the project is planning construction to LEED Platinum standards and will include more than 175,000 sf of solar panels (making it the largest solar facility in the northwest).  With the estimated project costs at about $40 M, Portland City Storage also plans to rehabilitate the riverfront property adjacent to the towers. 

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New Haworth Center HQ Setting Green Example

Haworth Center

I really like Haworth.  In short, Haworth is a leader in office furniture and architectural interiors.  They do everything with a commitment to appealing aesthetics, thoughtful ergonomics, and sustainability.  I came in contact with some Haworth employees when I was finishing my JD/MBA program in Dallas, and they gave me a personal tour of the super-stylish Dallas showroom (a commercial interiors office display built to LEED-CI Gold standards).  Now, Haworth is working on a major, award-winning overhaul of their Holland, Michigan Headquarters.  The 300,000 sf renovation was designed to meet LEED-NC Gold standards; some of the building’s green features include the following:

  • The new facade will have a sun-filled atrium and vegetated green roof, blending the boundary between the structure and natural environment;
  • All of the interior 830 workstations will have access to daylight views;
  • Over 99% of the existing materials collected during deconstruction and recovery are being recycled; and
  • Although the footprint of the building will increase by 20%, energy use will remain at pre-renovation levels due to sustainability improvements. 

Of the green headquarters, Haworth Chairman Dick Haworth said, "The new Haworth Center will be a leading example of change. We’re not just building a better building … we’re building a better future."

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