Via Cascadia Region Green Building Council
At the recent Greenbuild Conference & Expo in Boston, a team from Seattle architecture firm Weber Thompson was awarded first place in the Natural Talent Design Competition, an annual design competition of the USGBC’s Emerging Green Builders – the students and young professionals of the green building movement.
The winning entry is called Eco-Laboratory, and it follows the six ‘petals’ of the Cascadia Region Green Building Council’s (CRGBC) Living Building Challenge, which Julia wrote about for Worldchanging last September. The petals are Site, Materials, Energy, Indoor Quality, Water, and Beauty & Inspiration.
The design – from team members Myer Harrell, Dan Albert, Brian Geller, and Christopher Dukehart, is a terrific example of green building technologies and thoughtful site consideration. And, like any winner of a design competition, their boards are gorgeous and well articulated.
I highly encourage you to check out both the Design Narrative and the Boards themselves. A few things worth noting:
• Paying attention to site – the first of the consideration in the Living Building Challenge – is a key component of ecological design and green building. However, it still usually gets short shrift. Especially impressive is the way the building integrates into existing site uses, instead of paving over them.
• The design’s emphasis on multiple solutions and multiple technologies is represented in the opening line, “There is no silver bullet for sustainability.” This makes the whole project more interesting as an actual move toward sustainability than many ‘green’ projects that only do one thing – reduce energy use, for example.
• As the CRGBC notes in their description of the project, the ideas stemming from the Living Building Challenge remain mostly demonstrations and prototypes. In an era where this level of green building should be the norm – and in a city that prides itself on its relative ‘green-ness’ – I feel simultaneously proud that we have these exceptional young designers here, and frustrated that a project like this is still seen as so futuristic.
Congratulations to the winners, and here’s hoping we see this project implemented!
All photos courtesy of Weber Thompson. See more images on their website.
Justus Stewart is an urban planner and designer living in Seattle. He currently works on climate planning for local governments. Justus' main interest is the overlap and interrelation of fields usually held as separate.