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This Month in Green Design: An Upside Down Skyscraper, The World’s Greenest Office Building, & a Bonus DIY Project!

by on Apr 10, 2012

The midtown offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce has us musing Mad Men of late over at EcoSalon, so it seems only appropriate that much of this month’s post focuses on sustainability trends in skyscrapers, start-ups and big business.   

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Breaking Ground
The Bullitt Center in Seattle, Washington has yet to open, but it is already being heralded as the world’s greenest office building, even gaining an international reputation due to its functionality of producing as much water and electricity as it consumes. Architects estimate that the office building will last 250 years with no monthly electricity or water bills.

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Starting Up
Recently launched in beta, a kind of LinkedIn meets Yelp will help consumers and occupants of green real estate keep it, well, real.

Honest Buildings is a social hib, an online ecosystem if you will, for sustainable building owners, designers, architects and environmental consultants to exchange information. The site enables users to enter an address in one of the 5,570 cities available and get ratings on that building’s walkability, energy use, and LEED-ness.

Honest Buildings was started by Riggs Kubiak, previously the Director of Sustainability for global real estate group Tishman Speyer.

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Going DownIs down the new up?

A very insightful question from This Big City this week, inspired by designer Matthew Fromboluti’s entry into the eVolo Skyscraper Competition two years ago. He did not win then, but his concept for an underground skyscraper still resonates today.

Called ‘Above/Below,’ the inverted cone-shaped convex was meant to fill a 900-foot deep, 300-acre wide crater in Arizona. Passive systems suited to the desert, including a solar chimney, would provide ventilation and comfort for humans living off-grid, under the grid.

While purely conceptual, the idea of living underground does broaden one’s horizons quite a bit – much like an episode of Fraggle Rock for a six year-old. What do you think of the idea of living and working in an underground skyscraper?

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LEEDing Diplomacy
The United States gets a silver star in international diplomacy this month. The newly minted U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo, Madagascar is beurocratic (thus not beautiful in the slightest) but it has been awarded the silver level of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by the Green Building Certification Institute. It is the first in Madagascar to earn that distinction and one of only five LEED-certified buildings in all of Africa.

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Still Debating
An update on the unexpected feud between visionary starchitect Frank Gehry and the Eisenhowers.

As mentioned in a previous post, Gehry’s plans – called “creatively unconventional”, “innovative in form and use of materials” and “monumental in scale” – continues to draw ire, not least of which from Susan Eisenhower. She appeared before a congressional committee hearing late last month denouncing Gehry’s design as Marxist, more akin to Engels and Lenin than the 34th president of the United States. She further likened the monument’s columns to “missile silos” and argued that Holocaust survivors might be affronted by the similarity of the tapestries to the fences of Adolf Hitler’s death camps.

In short, the Eisenhowers really, really don’t like it (at all), and aren’t so impressed with the famed architect. Well, hey. Gehry responded that he’s “open” to going it back to the drawing table. 

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DIY Must Try
One could donate an old Apple, or use the DIY Macquarium Kit to turn it into a futuristic (yet retro) Jetson-esque ode to your first iMac.

Jake Harms first gained attention with his “candy-colored macquariums” last year. He has since started selling a kit (caboodled with a tank, light, filter and cords) so that you, too, can DIY your own Mac aquarium. Jake’s also got a campaign going on Kickstarter.

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