Coast Guard Headquarters flaunts sustainable design

Submitted by digital on Fri, 02/07/2014 - 18:09
{"version":"0.3.0","atoms":[],"cards":[["images-card",{"images":[{"url":"http:\/\/\/dpcbzfiye\/image\/upload\/v1458745760\/f3b2aawt8dsw5uxyykco.jpg","id":"1821"}],"caption":"As the building steps down the hill, it blends into the landscape through an extensive system of green roofs and over-structure courtyards, which form the second largest green roof system in the nation. This photo is oriented towards the southwest, across the Potomac River and Ronald Reagan National Airport on the far bank."}],["images-card",{"images":[{"url":"http:\/\/\/dpcbzfiye\/image\/upload\/v1458745801\/rgpkyb7nwh0lzen5fxjf.jpg","id":"1831"}],"caption":"The massive new U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters was nonetheless made to feel intimate through the creation of multiple courtyards and glassy walkways that connect the indoors with the outside."}],["images-card",{"images":[{"url":"http:\/\/\/dpcbzfiye\/image\/upload\/v1458745854\/l4w5s7csytu8prdqlvnv.jpg","id":"1836"}],"caption":"Rather than being isolated, self-contained spaces, the building\u0027s courtyards are all connected both via stairs as well as visually, providing a variety of spaces for individual reflection and group interaction."}],["images-card",{"images":[{"url":"http:\/\/\/dpcbzfiye\/image\/upload\/v1458745919\/qlgddjb9pnp0cfoosokw.jpg","id":"1841"}],"caption":"In a nod to the Coast Guard\u0027s core mission, water is an essential element in the overall scheme, from stormwater management that is largely unseen to this formal and highly visible water feature in one of the courtyards."}],["images-card",{"images":[{"url":"http:\/\/\/dpcbzfiye\/image\/upload\/v1458745974\/xeaahfbfxvacrvtdbevp.jpg","id":"1851"}],"caption":"The master plan for the 176-acre St. Elizabeths campus illustrates the echelon pattern of the original hospital building (center), and how that is subtly mimicked in the staggered sections of the new Coast Guard building (center bottom)."}],["images-card",{"images":[{"url":"http:\/\/\/dpcbzfiye\/image\/upload\/v1458746023\/bqacfddllmsqr0vpyyqr.jpg","id":"1861"}],"caption":"This sectional illustration shows the change in grade\u2014 from the hospital level to the bottom of the hill\u2014that needed to be accommodated in the new building."}]],"markups":[["a",["href","http:\/\/\/","target","_new"]],["strong"],["a",["href","http:\/\/\/","target","_new"]],["a",["href","http:\/\/\/","target","_new"]],["a",["href","http:\/\/\/","target","_new"]],["b"]],"sections":[[1,"h2",[[0,[],0,"Located\nin Washington, D.C., the headquarters includes underground aquifers, in the\ncourtyards and green roofs that filter runoff"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Everything about the new U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters speaks to the land\u2014quite a paradox for a maritime-focused agency. The massive building, located on the western edge of the historic St. Elizabeths Hospital campus in southeast Washington, D.C., is terraced down the side of a hill, surrounded by hundreds of new trees and plantings, and covered in the second-largest green roof system in the country. But where is the water, the element most integral to the Coast Guard mission?"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Although it is not always obvious, water is actually everywhere\u2014in the master plan, in the underground aquifers, in the courtyards and green roofs that filter runoff, and even (abstractly) in the building. It is also present in the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, which come together near the site and form part of its magnificent viewshed. The building\u0027s contextual and sustainable approach to both land and water represents a marked departure from the way federal buildings were planned and sited in the past, a trend that resulted in the many monolithic, inwardly focused mid-century Modern structures that line the core of the capital city."]]],[1,"p",[]],[10,0],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"At 1.2 million square feet, the $453 million Coast Guard building, which opened last summer, is just the first phase in the ongoing rehabilitation of St. Elizabeths, formerly a psychiatric hospital, for use by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies. The entire project is budgeted at $4 billion, making it the largest project in the history of the "],[0,[0],1,"U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)"],[0,[],0," and the largest construction project in the D.C. metro area since the completion of the Pentagon in 1943. The project team is a collaboration between several federal agencies and private firms, including Perkins+Will and Andropogon Associates, who led the master planning process and bridging design, as well as HOK, HDR, Goody Clancy, WDG, and Clark Construction Group, among others."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[1],1,"Keeping \u201cthe green ring\u201d"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Opened in 1855 on a promontory overlooking the low-lying federal core of Washington, St. Elizabeths offered patients and staff sweeping views and ample grounds for physical exercise. The main hospital was designed according to the classic "],[0,[2],1,"Kirkbride plan"],[0,[],0," , with a central volume and staggered wings in an echelon pattern, which was meant to promote therapeutic access to light and air. Given St. Elizabeths\u0027 National Historic Landmark status, it was deemed essential that any rehabilitation of the site respect the hospital as the dominant feature of the 176-acre campus, and that the site remain a contributing factor to the topographic \u201cgreen bowl\u201d around the capital city."]]],[1,"p",[]],[10,1],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"The concept starts with the idea of keeping the continuity of the green ring around the city, and reinstating it,\u201d says Ralph Johnson, FAIA, principal and design director for "],[0,[3],1,"Perkins+Will"],[0,[],0,". \u201cIt\u0027s a very sensitive site from the standpoint of the historic buildings and the sweeping views. So we had to keep the new building very low\u2014lower than the historic buildings.\u201d"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"This was no easy feat, given the 120-foot change in elevation from the top of the hill to the bottom. Complicating matters further were the discovery of two aquifers running through the hill, which would have been severely impacted by construction. Working with Philadelphia-based landscape architecture firm "],[0,[4],1,"Andropogon"],[0,[],0," , the design team developed an 11-level facility in which only the top two levels are above grade. The remaining nine levels are built into and extend out of the landscape, cascading down the hill almost as if Frank Lloyd Wright had transposed Fallingwater into a million-square-foot government facility. The building is further divided into a series of wings and volumes that surround eight planted courtyards, which are also connected and step down the hill, one leading to the other. The stepped scheme vaguely recalls the staggered Kirkbride pattern as well."]]],[1,"p",[]],[10,2],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u201cWe put a lot of thought into how you would use the mass\nof architecture in what used to be a wooded lot,\u201d says Yaki Miodovnik,\nprincipal of Andropogon. \u201cIt was not a healthy woodland, but people perceived\nit as a woodland, and so we came to the solution of developing these courtyards\nthat would reflect the landscape.\u201d (The site was both contaminated from\nprevious development, requiring soil mitigation, and overgrown with weeds and\nunderbrush.) \u201cWe realized they needed to be bigger than usual, to allow the light\nand views to penetrate the building, and to allow these trees and plants to\ngrow,\u201d says Miodovnik."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\n\n\n\n"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0," "]]],[10,3],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Inside the building, the various wings have been named\nafter famous U.S. lighthouses to help orient occupants. The wings are tied together\nwith unifying corridors, including a north-south corridor that overlooks the\ncascading courtyards called \u201cthe bridge,\u201d like that of a ship, and another long\ncorridor at the lowest level known as the \u201ckeel.\u201d One hallway features hardwood\nflooring resembling a ship\u0027s decking."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Outside, with its 550,000 square feet of vegetated\ngreen roofs, the building virtually disappears into the landscape, which was\nimportant for preserving views both out from the site and back toward it from\nother parts of the city. The building is clad in brick, schist stone, glass,\nand metal, with the masonry primarily kept to the outer edges closest to St.\nElizabeths, picking up its red-brick aesthetic. The most glass appears in areas\nthat frame the courtyards, bringing natural light into the building and forging\na connection for workers to the outside."]]],[1,"p",[]],[10,4],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"The courtyards and green roof systems serve manifold\npurposes: First, they are part of the overall stormwater management program,\ndesigned to keep as much runoff as possible on site. Stormwater is captured and\nfiltered through the green roof systems, flowing into the next as needed until\nit reaches a catchment basin at the bottom of the hill, where it is then\nrecycled for on-site irrigation. The design team estimates that this system\nreduces onsite stormwater runoff by 47 percent. The roofs also lessen the urban\nheat island effect, extend the life of the roof membrane, and provide wildlife\nhabitats and recreational and meeting space to workers, earning LEED Gold\ncertification."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Each green roof and courtyard is both a literal and\nabstract expression of five local eco-regions, from the Piedmont uplands down\nto the coastal plain. There are 200,000 plants, more than 300 native trees, and\nabout 100 varieties of sedum. One courtyard even features a \u201cdry river bed\u201d\nthat mimics the actual bends of the Potomac as it stretches up toward\nWashington from the Chesapeake Bay."]]],[1,"p",[]],[10,5],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u201cTraditionally, a government building [landscape] might\nhave the aesthetics of the English landscape,\u201d says Thomas Amoroso, associate\nprincipal and project manager at Andropogon. \u201cThese meadows, by contrast, would\nneed once-a-year trimming of the grasses.\u201d But the landscapes at the Coast\nGuard buildings require little maintenance, a less-mannered and wild expression\nof the area\u2019s natural flora. \u201cWe were a little surprised that the Coast Guard\nand the GSA were so open and accepting of this scheme. We\u0027re trying to change\nthe [established] aesthetics of hundreds of years,\u201d says Amoroso."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[5],1,"\u201cBreaking the mold\u201d"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Johnson says the shift began with the GSA\u0027s Design\nExcellence program, which is how Perkins+Will first became connected with the\nproject. \u201cThe whole Design Excellence program was about breaking the mold,\u201d he\nsays. \u201cThis project is part of that whole movement. There was kind of a freedom\nthat was given to us. There weren\u0027t any imposed stylistic constraints. They\nwanted us to do a very site-specific building. Here, it was really about\nintegrating the building into the landscape.\u201d"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\n\n\n\n"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\n\n\n\n"]]]]}
The striking and surprising design of the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, DC
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