Transparent Technology

The historic farmstead retains its character, thanks to Valerio's decision to embed his addition a full level into the ground. The upper floor of two-story structure is level with ground floor of farmhouse (at left) and barn.

The three-acre site was developed to capture rainfall and direct water movement. A bio-swale defines the perimeter of the property, and impervious surfaces are eschewed. The parking lot retains water within 18 inches of crushed rock below the permeable pavers. Water is collected in the reconstructed wetland and then pumped into a cistern, where it is used to water the green roofs.

The primary entrance for the staff is at the lower courtyard level, accessed via an outdoor ramp adjacent to the barn. The barn houses the staff lunchroom and mechanical equipment-recapturing the barn's traditional role as primary support structure for the complex.

The north and south elevations are extensively glazed, while the east and west façades are generally opaque. The opaque façades, as well as the roof, are light-colored and superinsulated to retain heat within the building during the winter and retard solar gain during the summer months.

The new offices face either the central courtyard or a restored wetland to the south. The subtle palette of glass and custom light-gray recycled aluminum panels complements the stone of the original Brooks Farm.

The new offices face either the central courtyard or a restored wetland to the south. The subtle palette of glass and custom light-gray recycled aluminum panels complements the stone of the original Brooks Farm.

Two-thirds of the office space in the building is at what the architects euphemistically call the courtyard level-or the basement. Maximizing light was essential. "The staff of the foundation reads thousands of pages of grant applications every year," explains Valerio. The workspaces are thoughtful and serene-a cloister for the 21st century. Attention to detail extends to every aspect of the interior environment. A daylight-harvesting system distributes natural light. Occupancy sensors and light control maintain constant levels of illumination and conserve energy whenever possible. A raised floor system permits individual control of HVAC for maximum comfort. Operable windows are used to the extent practical.

Two-thirds of the office space in the building is at what the architects euphemistically call the courtyard level-or the basement. Maximizing light was essential. "The staff of the foundation reads thousands of pages of grant applications every year," explains Valerio. The workspaces are thoughtful and serene-a cloister for the 21st century. Attention to detail extends to every aspect of the interior environment. A daylight-harvesting system distributes natural light. Occupancy sensors and light control maintain constant levels of illumination and conserve energy whenever possible. A raised floor system permits individual control of HVAC for maximum comfort. Operable windows are used to the extent practical.

The architects implemented more than three-dozen sustainable strategies within their design, from simple sun-shading techniques to a sophisticated geothermal system. "The area under the parking lot is like a huge battery," explains Valerio, referring to the geothermal system that provides heating and cooling for the complex. Some 40, 400-foot-deep wells on a 20-foot grid are detectable only by the dark paving stones that cap them. A closed loop system of 1 1/4-inch-diameter plastic piping moves water from the wells to three heat pumps. A balance is maintained throughout the year-extracting heat from the earth during the winter and dispelling it from the building during the summer. Kresge's project manager, Ron Gagnon, notes some of the difficulties implementing these advanced strategies: Parking ordinances generally require vast swaths of impervious asphalt. Building inspectors typically don't understand geothermal energy. "You have to educate them about all of these new ideas," he says.

Two-thirds of the office space in the building is at what the architects euphemistically call the courtyard level-or the basement. Maximizing light was essential. "The staff of the foundation reads thousands of pages of grant applications every year," explains Valerio. The workspaces are thoughtful and serene-a cloister for the 21st century. Attention to detail extends to every aspect of the interior environment. A daylight-harvesting system distributes natural light. Occupancy sensors and light control maintain constant levels of illumination and conserve energy whenever possible. A raised floor system permits individual control of HVAC for maximum comfort. Operable windows are used to the extent practical.

Some staff receive private offices for acoustical privacy, although each space remains visually open via floor-to-ceiling glass. Detailing is clean and simple, with doors matching glass panel sizes. Clerestories help illuminate the circulation spaces.

The complex section of the two-level building incorporates light shades, green roofs, clerestory windows, and other features that promote environmental responsibility.

Double-height glazing facing west dramatically illuminates a small seating area outside the conference room-a strategic choice made for aesthetic effect. Although inconsistent with the design's more energy efficient features, the architects found that careful implementation of such anomalies had a negligible impact on the overall energy use of the building.

Metal ceiling panels thematically relate to the building envelope and contrast with warm wood floors and walls in key locations.

Metal ceiling panels thematically relate to the building envelope and contrast with warm wood floors and walls in key locations.

Two required fire stairs enclose the east and west edges of the central courtyard. Although occupied spaces on these elevations are generally opaque, Valerio clad the circulation spaces in glass. Energy is saved by simply tempering the air in each area to avoid extreme swings in temperature rather than providing full heating and cooling. Consistent with the rest of the building, the stairs are simply detailed in steel plate with precast terrazzo tread surfaces.

Two required fire stairs enclose the east and west edges of the central courtyard. Although occupied spaces on these elevations are generally opaque, Valerio clad the circulation spaces in glass. Energy is saved by simply tempering the air in each area to avoid extreme swings in temperature rather than providing full heating and cooling. Consistent with the rest of the building, the stairs are simply detailed in steel plate with precast terrazzo tread surfaces.

Two required fire stairs enclose the east and west edges of the central courtyard. Although occupied spaces on these elevations are generally opaque, Valerio clad the circulation spaces in glass. Energy is saved by simply tempering the air in each area to avoid extreme swings in temperature rather than providing full heating and cooling. Consistent with the rest of the building, the stairs are simply detailed in steel plate with precast terrazzo tread surfaces.

Retaining walls are 3-footthick gabions faced in crushed Michigan blue granite. Each basket is filled primarily with recycled paving materials, including the previous paving from the site. Crushed asphalt and concrete was also "harvested" from nearby sites, making Kresge a local landfill for these waste materials.

A lower-level conference room looks onto a retention pond on the south side of the site.

A steel-framed pavilion provides an outdoor sheltered terrace overlooking a restored wetland.

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