Balancing design excellence with sustainability

Balancing design excellence with sustainability

Kenneth H. Drucker

Perhaps more than any other American architectural firm, HOK enjoys a long-standing legacy for commitment to sustainable design. Our corporate policy on sustainability has been in place since the early 1990’s, and we have authored numerous treatises on the subject as well as a book entitled “Sustainable Design”, generally considered the preeminent tome on green architecture.

In HOK’s New York office, we have completed or are engaged in designing a number of high profile green buildings, both in the public and private sectors.

Though varied, these projects all share HOK’s commitment to using building materials responsibly and creatively and demonstrating stewardship for natural resources.

Battery Park City Ballfields

2004 saw the completion of “The Ballfields”, a combination of softball and soccer fields. This expansive indoor/outdoor public space provides Lower Manhattan with much needed active recreation space.

Recycled and crushed concrete was used for paved area sub-base where appropriate. A bioswale drainage system was installed that incorporates fibrous rooted sod that traps rainwater resulting in cleaner water and less disposal into the NYC stormwater management system.

The ballfields are reportedly the first ever constructed and maintained without pesticides, herbicides or other inorganic supplements or treatments, and soil health is continuously monitored.

St. George Ferry Terminal will provide new gateway to Staten Island

Over on Staten Island, a new, dramatically improved ferry terminal at St. George is in the final phases of construction. It will create a state-of-the-art gateway to Staten Island for thousands of commuters and tourists.

The project is a public/private partnership, being overseen by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), on behalf of the City and the City’s Department of Transportation (DOT).

The existing dark and dingy main waiting area has been transformed into an airy space with clerestory windows on all sides to let in natural light and a forty-foot high glass wall along the waterside to provide a spectacular view of New York Harbor. Two grand observation decks have been added to further take advantage of the expansive harbor views. The renovations will increase the existing retail space within the terminal by 30 percent.

Significantly, HOK has placed this project on track to be the first-ever in America LEED Certified sustainable intermodal center. A new green roof with an irrigation system powered by photovoltaics and restoring oyster beds to clean New York Harbor are two innovative sustainable concepts applied to the project.

Winrock Headquarters is model for sustainability

A striking new headquarters building for Winrock International has recently been completed on a site adjacent to the Arkansas River in Little Rock.

It embodies the nonprofit organization’s mission to sustain natural resources and protect the environment.

Winrock’s two-story facility has a “gull wing” roof that is split into two glass pavilions divided by a breezeway. Within the breezeway is a cistern for collecting rain water, which will provide much of the water needed for irrigating the grounds.

In keeping with Winrock’s philosophy of environmental conservatism and responsibility, the goal in building the new facility was to achieve, at minimum, a Silver LEED rating and to set an example of sustainability for other non-profit groups. The roof is glazed to reduce heat absorption and the under-floor air supply system only conditions occupied spaces. Glass curtain walls and openings in the second floor slab allow natural light to penetrate the office throughout the day, which will be the primary source of ambient light. A high emissivity roof reduces the heat island effect, minimizing impact on the microclimate. Exterior lights fall within the property to reduce nocturnal light pollution, and more than 77% of construction waste was diverted away from landfills by recycling.

Many of the materials that were specified in the design are found in the Little Rock region. Furthermore, the interior specifications were very rigid, requiring “cradle to grave” recyclable content and the employment of renewable energy sources.

Other sustainable projects on the boards in New York include the 22 acre “living roofed” Javits Center Expansion, a new building for a European Automotive Company to be located in Northern New Jersey, as well as the recently completed Terminal A, at Logan Airport for Delta Airlines.


COPYRIGHT 2005 Hagedorn Publication

COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group