Concrete, Coatings Deliver Green Honors

THURSDAY, MAY 19, 2016

Concrete formulation and coating specifications play a role in many of the projects being honored by the American Institute of Architects for their sustainable and ecological design.

The AIA and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) present the COTE Top Ten Awards annually; the awards recognize “design projects that protect and enhance the environment,” AIA says. The awards will be handed out at this week’s 2016 AIA Convention, in Philadelphia.

Nine of the 10 buildings are in the United States, the lone exception being the Biosciences Research Building, in Galway, Ireland. Designed by Payette and Reddy Architecture + Urbanism, it was completed in October of 2013 at a cost of $36.7 million.

Sustainable Concrete, Unfinished Wood

High-strength concrete plays a vital role in one of the award-winning building projects, San Diego’s J. Craig Venter Institute, a net-zero energy-usage building that’s home to a genomic research center. ZGF Architects (Los Angeles) specified Portland Type III cement, in part because its lighter color increases its tendency to reflect heat.

The project team, under general contractor McCarthy Building Companies (San Diego), used an 8,000 psi concrete formulation to reduce the amount of total concrete needed, and used a 30 percent fly ash formula, which they call “one of the most sustainable design mixes ever used in the U.S. at the time of construction.”

The architects chose to leave the Spanish cedar wood portions of the building unfinished. The project was completed in 2013.

Low VOCs, Anti-Graffiti

Another of the winning projects, the Rene Cazenave Apartments in San Francisco, provides housing for residents who previously experienced chronic homelessness. Designed by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, the new construction, built on a former parking lot, shows as much concern for aesthetics and livability as sustainability.

Rene Cazenave Apartments
Tim Griffith/Leddy Maytum Stacy

On the Rene Cazenave's exterior, contractor Cahill Contractors Inc. applied anti-graffiti coatings to exposed concrete, metal panels and first-floor glazing.

Many of the residents have health problems, the architects explain, which led them to specify interior finishes and other materials with low VOC levels, which they call an “essential’ decision.

On the building’s exterior, contractor Cahill Contractors Inc. applied anti-graffiti coatings to exposed concrete, metal panels and first-floor glazing. Low-VOC products were used, including an anti-graffiti sealer on the exposed concrete, and a two-component, urethane-modified acrylic coating and cleaner system applied over a soy-based concrete sealer on cement board panels.

The Top Ten

The full list of COTE Top Ten winners:

  • Biosciences Research Building in Galway, Ireland (Payette and Reddy Architecture + Urbanism)
  • Center for Sustainable Landscapes, Pittsburgh, PA (The Design Alliance Architects)
  • Exploratorium at Pier 15, San Francisco (EHDD)
  • H-E-B at Mueller, Austin, TX (Lake|Flato Architects, H-E-B Design + Construction, Selser Schaefer Architects)
  • Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, Berkeley, CA (Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects)
  • Rene Cavenaze Apartments, San Francisco (Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects)
  • The Dixon Water Foundation Josey Pavilion, Decatur, TX (Lake|Flato Architects)
  • The J. Craig Venter Institute, San Diego (ZGF Architects)
  • University of Wyoming – Visual Arts Facility, Laramie, WY (Hacker Architects, Malone Belton Able PC)
  • West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library, Berkeley, CA (Harley Ellis Devereaux)

Tagged categories: American Institute of Architects (AIA); Anti-graffiti coatings; Awards and honors; Color + Design; concrete; Environmentally friendly; Green coatings; North America; Sustainability

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