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Project team: Foster + Partners; Arup; Skanska

Program: Office; 41-story; 180 metres tall (591 ft); 47,950 sqm (516,100 sqft)

The Gherkin (30 St Mary Axe)

Designed for Swiss Re, one of the world’s leading reinsurance companies, The Gherkin (30 St Mary Axe), is an early paradigm of environmental skyscraper. The building features aerodynamic shape that maximizes the amount of light and ventilation use which reduces 50% the amount of energy consumed compared to a typical office building.
Using parametric computer-modeling techniques, it directs the movement of the air around the building and minimizes the strength of the wind at the ground level to reduce pedestrian discomfort.

The external diagonal steel structure enables a column-free interior space. The glazing of the building comprises double glazed outer layer and a single glazed inner layer which sandwiches a cavity that has solar-controlled blinds. The cavities reduces the heating and cooling loads.

Design team: Cooper Carry; Lake|Flato Architects

Program: Laboratory; 6 stories; 212,500 sqft ( 19,700 sqm)

Image © Lake | Flato; Cooper Carry

Georgia Tech Engineered Biosystems Building

Utilizing the headwaters of the city’s water system underneath Georgia Tech, the design team of Georgia Tech Engineered Biosystems Building incorporated it into the building’s water system with an innovative approach. The plan for the building is also reshaped taking the stream into consideration. Through this approach the building produces a net surplus of water, making it an active participant in sustainability for the entire university. Taking it a step further, it also collects the water from air-conditioning condensate, foundation dewatering, as well as rainwater.

Project team: WRNS Studio; Salter (Acoustics); @Integral Group (Daylighting); Rana Creek Ranch (Green roof); RHAA Landscape Architecture + Planning

Program: Education; 2 stories; 41,000 sqft (3,800 sqm)

Photo © WRNS Studio

Janet Durgin Guild and Commons, Sonoma Academy

Sonoma Academy’s Janet Durgin Guild and Commons was designed with the material selections that lead to a healthier environment, according to Pauline Souza, WRNS Studio partner and director of sustainability. Winning the AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects Award and the AIASF Design Award in 2018, the design features local materials such as watershed block, high percentage vegetation coverage, solar panels, ground-source heat pumps, as well as water management system that supplies 88% of the building’s non-potable water demand.

Project team: Perkins&Will; WSP (Civil); Hidi Rae Consulting Engineers Inc., Mulvey & Banani (MEP); DATH (Landscape)

Program: Library; 1-story; 29,000 sqft (2,700 sqm)

Photo © Perkins&Will; Michael Muraz

Albion District Library

Albion District Library was designed to carefully consider undisrupted operations and services during construction but also to regenerate the urban plaza supporting community event space. As a result, a new building replacing the existing building in phases replaced the original expansion proposal.

Designed to Tier 1 Toronto Green Standards, Toronto’s sustainable design requirements for new private and city-owned developments, it had won multiple sustainability awards. Key features include a rooftop photovoltaic array, a sloping green roof that minimizes urban heat island effect, daylight harvesting, and the creation of wetland to collect storm water for irrigation. The building has reduced energy use by 40% compared to the national average.

Design team: Santiago Calatrava LLC

Program: Museum, 135,600 sqft (12,600 sqm)

Photo © Perkins&Will; Michael Muraz

Museum of Tomorrow

Winning “Best Innovative Green Building” from the MIPIM Awards, the Museum of Tomorrow is a distinctive structure that overlooks the Guanabara Bay. The structure extends outwards providing large scale cantilevering canopy to the plaza. The museum incorporates multiple sustainable design elements such as solar panels that move with the sun to maximize energy absorption, comprehensive water management and reuse system, and using local supplies for its primary building materials. The museum saves up to 10 million liters of water as well as 2,400 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity each year.

Project team: RENZO PIANO BUILDING WORKSHOP; Arup; SWA Group; Rutherford + Chekene; Rana Creek Ranch; PBS&J Constructors, Inc.; Thinc Design, NY, NY; Cinnabar California Inc.; Visual Acuity

Program: Museum; 410,000 sqft (38,100 sqm)

California Academy of Sciences

Singled out by the US green building council as the most sustainable building of its kind, the California Academy of Sciences is the world’s first and largest double LEED Platinum museum. Its 2.5 acre green roof houses 1.7 million native plants and provides natural insulation through the six inch soil substrate. Built with low iron content, the floor-to-ceiling glass reduces heat absorption, minimizing energy for cooling. Other sustainable features include an automated ventilation system using louvers as well as a solar canopy of 60,000 photovoltaic cells surrounding the perimeter of the roof.

Image © Powerhouse

Floating Office Rotterdam

Faced with sea level rise due to climate change, Dutch designers are propelled to push the boundaries of adaptive construction. The floating office designed by Powerhouse reflects the values of its inhabitants: the Global Center on Adaptation an NGO based in Rotterdam. The timber-construction building possesses its own solar energy source and water-based heat-exchange system to be self-sufficient.

Read more:

Design team: Grimshaw; Dattner Architects

Program: Residential; 222 apartments; 20 floors; 27,000 sqm (290,600 sqft)
Photo © David Sundberg, Esto; Grimshaw Architects

Via Verde

Bronx had seen a resurgence in the past few years due to increased investments in social, economic, and environmental infrastructure. The project Via Verde is a subsidized affordable housing in Bronx conceived with the aim to strengthen the value of community spaces. The growing public health concerns has lead to reforms in residential regulations requiring windows for every room as well as fireproof partitions. The terraced building form steps up from its central courtyard and spiralling as a series of gardens from the center to the south which maximized natural light and open vistas to the south.

Design team: Sauerbruch Hutton

Program: Office for 750 employees; 5 stories (1 basement); 41,000 sqm (441,300sqft)

Federal Environment Agency

Located in Dessau, home of the Bauhaus school, the design of the Federal Environment Agency successfully integrate its offices and public programs with landscape at multiple scales. The offices in the long curving volume are organized along a double-loaded corridor, enclosing the central courtyard. This met the requirement set up by the German government workplace that each employee have an offce with access to natural light and a minimum area of 12 sqm. The project had won DGNB Gold Certificate which emphasizes building performance in its entire lifecycle.

Design Team: Ateliers Jean Nouvel (Architects); PTW (Architects) Surface Design Consulting(Facade); Arup ; Aedis (Structure); Robert Bird Group (Structure); Transsolar KlimaEngineering (Energy)

Program: Two residential towers; 623 apartments; 97,000 sqm (1,044,100 sqft)

Photo © Murray Fredericks; Paul Lovelace; Simon Wood

One Central Park

One Central Park, with its sustainable design, is the first residential tower in Sydney to receive a 6 Green Star rating, a sustainability rating and certification system in Australia. The building’s landscape facade was designed in collaboration with French botanist and artist Patrick Blanc and covers approximately half of the building’s facade area. Cantilevering from the top of the building is a common area with motorized heliostat fixed to the structure which captures sunlight and reflects it down into below.

Design team: BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group (Architects); CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati (Ground floor landscape)

Program: Mixed-use; 29 floors of office space and 299 apartments; 93,000 sqm (1,001,000 sqft)

Photo © Jonathan Choe; Bjarke Ingels Group

Singapore Tower

BIG’s first building in Singapore nears completion. The 51-story mixed-use tower was designed with its facade which “peels open to reveal an urban oasis for its users and the surrounding city – animating the elegant smoothness of modern architecture with the ubiquitous tropical nature”, according to BIG founder Bjarke Ingels. The building will incorporate Internet of Things-enabled devices, sensors, and artificial intelligence capabilities.

Design team: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Philip Johnson; Severud Associates (Structural)

Program: Office; 849,000 sq ft (78,900 sq m); 38 floors

Singapore Tower

Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building in Manhattan had drawn accolades as a modernist masterpiece, while it also had an energy rating of merely 3 out of 100 in NYC Energy Star Score according to the 2013 data. How can designers optimize building energy performance through programmatic shifts and retrofitting?

Read more about the thesis by Gwen Fuertes in 2014 conducted at UC Berkeley, College of Environmental Design:

Design team: Wingårdh Arkitektkontor
Photo © Wingårdh Arkitektkontor


The aquarium Müritzeum located in Waren, Germany was designed to express a low-profile massing and is situated at the center of the old town, surrounded by the Herrensee lake. The space was organized by the conical structure which has different characters facing the entrance plaza and rambling routes.

The external surfaces are made of carbonized timber with a blackish brown finish which requires less maintenance. In contrast, the interior surfaces of the cone structure are made of warm colored wood. The process of charring (heat treatment) changes the elasticity of the exterior wood cladding and prevent it from insect damage and rotting – A traditional technique rediscovered in architecture in recent years.

Design team: KMD Architects; Stevens Architects

Program: Office for 1000 employees; 13 stories; 277,500 sqft (25,780 sqm)

Image © KMD Architects

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Headquarters

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Headquarters exceeds LEED Platinum certification for its comprehensive integration of green building design and technologies. Highlights in design which had won the project multiple awards include:
• An innovative structural system which utilizes post-tensioned core walls and self-centering system.
• Integrated wind turbines and façade shape/orientation to respond to the prevailing winds and maximize energy generation.
• The project requires 32% less energy than similar buildings and 45% less energy to illuminate the interior.
• Comprehensive water management which enables 60% less water consumption.
• Mixture of 70% post industrial material which cut the Carbon emissions in half. This is a stand-out building for sustainable design.

Design team: David Chipperfield Architects; Arup; Kunwon Engineering

Program: Corporate headquarters; 2,325,000 sqft (216,000 sqm)

Image © KMD Architects

Amorepacific Headquarters

Amorepacific’s HQ was designed as a mid-rise building which maximises the use of passive systems and reduce energy demand. The openings in the volume enables daylighting, shading and natural ventilation to the central atrium of the building. Arup, the projects’ consulting team, located the openings to exploit the prevailing wind direction and minimize wind deflections. The brise soleil facade system comprised of aluminum fins in various sizes respond to solar exposure to reduce air conditioning loads.

Read more about the performance data for the project:

Designer: Oskar Zieta

NAWA Pavilion

Rediscovering structural properties in materials can inspire a different thinking in space. The NAWA pavilion which features inflated steel structure, designed by Oskar Zieta in 2018 was an example of material innovation. The pavilion succeeded the Plopp stool project Zieta developed for Hay in 2008 using the FIDU manufacturing process.

Link to the furniture project:

Design team:
Program: Office building; 250-400 employees; 139,200 sqft (12,930 sqm)
Image © Schellen Architecten

Bayer Administrative Building

Bayer Administrative Building was designed to reduce the primary energy consumption for heating and cooling by 83%. The project incorporated multiple green building design strategies including a high performance envelope, energy efficiency automation technologies and renewable energy sources.

Designe team:Peter Zumthor Architects

Photo © Rasmus Hjortshøj; Inessa Binenbaum

Kolumba Museum

The Kolumba Museum was designed to coexist with the gothic church and stone ruins in Cologne that were destroyed during World War II and to house Roman Catholic art collections. Interconnecting the existing structure with varied sectional conditions throughout the site, the new bricks forming the porous facade were customized by Petersen Tegl of Denmark for this project. The warm grey color of the bricks results from the charcoal used in the firing.

Frei Otto - Tensile Systems

The past year forced city designers to rethink engagement with outdoor space and amenities, strengthen pedestrian thoroughfares, encourage outdoor activities and has also perhaps served to underline the attraction of biophilic architecture. Frei Otto, legendary architect and engineer who experimented and revolutionized with innovative tensile systems and his pursuit to create lightweight structure with expansive open architecture offers an interesting perspective.

Having completed grand stadia, exhibition halls and gridshells Otto’s pursuit set out against the prevalent adoption of monumental architecture as the only enduring and symbolic form that could stand as emblematic structure. Instead, he relentlessly pushed the boundaries of lightweight membrane structures and sought to connect architecture and its occupants with nature and natural forms. His revolutionary works, prior to the burgeoning of sustainability, were precursors to the Eden project by Grimshaw Architects in 2001 and many other inflatable, tensile, gridshell and lightweight structures of various shapes and sizes. Frei Otto was a revolutionary, an out-of-the box thinker and inspiration for all of us designers looking to reconnect architecture with nature.

Frei Otto: Spanning The Future documentary is available to stream online:

Location: Atlanta, Georgia, 2019
Program: Academic, 37,000 sqft (3,440 sqm); 3 stories

Project team: Lord Aeck Sargent; The Miller Hull Partnership, LLP (Architecture); Long Engineering (Civil); Biohabitats (Greywater); PAE; Newcomb & Boyd, LLP (MEP); Uzun + Case, LLC (Structural); Andropogon Associates, Ltd. (Landscape)

Photo © Jonathan Hillyer

The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design

The Kendeda Building sets itself apart in terms of sustainability accreditations and accolades but also as an experiment for a more holistic approach to building excellence. The project received the Living Building Challenge (LBC) certification in March this year, the world’s most ambitious program for green building achievement. To achieve this, a building needs to meet 20 specific performance requirements, or “Imperatives,” for 12 consecutive months of occupancy and operation.

Read more about what performance metrics were addressed and how it planned to achieve energy efficiency in this link:

Design team: Mecanoo (Design lead) and Beyer Blinder Belle (AOR, Historical preservation)

Image © Mecanoo; John Bartelstone; Max Touhey

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library in New York opened last week. The renovation project was designed by Mecanoo (Design lead) and Beyer Blinder Belle (AOR, Historical preservation).
The 50-year-old branch of NYPL now has two extra inserted mezzanine floors, which makes 5 levels of browsable stacks. The Beaux-Arts style building also has an additional roof terrace with zinc-green roofing typical of classical architecture of its kind. The terrace will enable visitors to look at the stunning views surrounding Bryant Park.

Design team: Schmelzle+Partner Architekten; Bühler GmbH (Structure); Lacker AG (Facade); Ingenieurbüro Isenmann (Building Services)

Program: Office for 45 employees

Photo © Steffen Schrägle

Schmelzle+Partner Office

Schmelzle+Partner Office was built in the first phase of the development plan by the architecture company. The project was aimed at creating an “architecture campus”, a distinctive work and living environment for the employees.

The design achieved functionality and aesthetics with standardized building materials that are conventionally used in industrial construction. It also emphasized transparency and prioritized employee’s needs. In the interior, the table systems were designed for 6 to 8 persons which was proved to be the ideal size for teamwork. Instead of compartmentalized meeting rooms, all-around running curtains enabled flexible organization when an enclosed space is required.

Design team: ACC Naturale Architettura Cristiana Catino; Negozio Blu Architetti (Architecture); Studio Associato Vigetti e Merlo (Landscape)

Program: Retail mall; Site area 15,000 sqm (161,500 sqft); 6 stories

Photo © Fabio Oggero

Green Pea

Completed in the end of 2020 while fell off the radar due to the pandemic, Green Pea in Turin is a retail mall that focused on ecological design. The project was key in the regeneration of the southern part of the city of Turin.
Multiple sustainable design was implemented to achieve harmony with nature inside out. The interior cladding is comprised of hardwood sandwich boards covered with insultation wood fiber and sheet metal which can be reassembled easily. The uses of geothermal, photovoltaic and wind energy enabled the building to achieve nearly net-zero energy.

Design teams:
Max Fordham LLP; bere:architects; Price & Myers; Bow Tie Construction

Program: 3-bedroom house; 3 stories

Photo © Max Fordham

Max Fordham House

Max Fordham House had won the RIBA London Sustainability Award in 2019 for its solution-focused design. The building integrated passive house principles with innovative technologies. Design highlights include:
• Horizontal window shutters inspired by electric car window
• 3D-printed jet nozzles that supply air silently and efficiently
• Full building rainwater attenuation strategies
• Automated sliding insulated shutters
• Thermally massive structure and high performance envelope
• Adequately sized and planned space organization

Design team: Neutelings Riedijk Architects; Bureau Bouwtechniek; ABT België; Peutz bv ingenieuze adviseurs

Program: Museum, restaurant, party room; 200 ft high (60 m)

Photo © Filip Dujardin

Museum aan de Stroom (MAS)

The MAS originated from a competition to regenerate the old harbor area in the center of Antwerp. The museum embodies the history of the city and also functions as an observation tower. The exhibition spaces are organized as a gigantic spiral staircase which culminates in the top of the tower with a panoramic terrace. The facade of the building features corrugated glass and large panels of hand-cut indian sandstone with color variations. The amount of design detailing made possible the effortless aesthetics of the building with an innovative scheme.

Design team: Houben & Van Mierlo; Eindhoven University of Technology; Van Wijnen (Contractor); Vesteda (Real estate); Saint Gobain-Weber Beamix (Materials); Witteveen+Bos (Engineering)

Photo © Bart van Overbeeke; Houben & Van Mierlo Architecten

Project Milestone

Designed by Dutch architects Houben & Van Mierlo and in collaboration with Eindhoven University of Technology, Project Milestone is the first 3D printed house to have tenants living in. 24 concrete components of the house were printed separately then transported to the site. The project exhibits high-quality printed concrete envelope and its integration with the building system. The design team expects other houses in the same scheme to be printed entirely onsite, as a step forward in cost reduction.

Design teams: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Estudio Lamela (Architecture); Anthony Hunt Associates/TPS, OTEP/HCA (Structure); Arup

Program: Terminal for international and Schengen flights; 6 levels; 12,464,600 sqft (1,158,000 sqm)

Material: Concrete, Steel, Bamboo

Barajas International Airport Terminal 4

Terminal 4 at the Barajas International Airport is the largest airport in Spain, and it is also the largest industrial bamboo project in the world. The undulating roof is supported by sloping, tapered “Y” columns and is pierced by large elliptical openings allowing natural light to flood into the terminal building

The design creates a distinctive customer experience where natural light, bright aesthetics and a flowing structure is enhanced by the curved laminated bamboo throughout its ceilings. Interestingly one of the key drivers of the design was developing a linear progression of spaces that is easy to navigate and an architecture that conveys a sense of calm and simplicity in design.

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