Smart Architect Builds Dumb Building

It is not a sophisticated building, it is a throwback. It is the first office building in 50 years to be built in Seattle without air conditioning. It won't knock anyone over the head with high-tech turbines and acres of photovoltaics; It will just efficiently and simply use 30% less energy by doing things that architects have known about for hundreds of years.

To paraphrase the old New York chicken ads, it takes a smart architect to make a dumb building, and Scott Thomson has done exactly that. Got sun in your face? put on sunglasses on the building to stop it before it gets in. Want fresh air? Open the window. Want light? Make it shallow, only 35 feet from window to courtyard. Want air circulation? Put a hole in the middle of the donut to create a stack effect to draw air through. Nothing to see here that wouldn't be found in a 1936 Architectural Graphic Standards.

After all, this isn't Guadalajara where Carme Pinos took the same approach- it is temperate Seattle. Thomson estimates "there may be only 18 to 20 hours a year when the temperature will climb above 80 degrees inside." which is when you go for a Frappuccino- it is Seattle, after all.

Other features include "low-flow plumbing fixtures, waterless urinals, a highly efficient hot-water heating system and perimeter hydronic radiant heating that is individually controlled. With only one elevator, the use of stairs will be encouraged by making them visible and accessible to users and visitors. The exposed structure minimizes the use of finish materials, and good indoor-air quality will be achieved by using low-VOC paints, adhesives and carpet."

Thompson of Weber+Thomson, who will be the main tenant, says " Our goal is to construct a place that promotes a healthier environment by using energy, water and other natural resources more efficiently, which, in turn, will reduce our impact on the environment. A sustainable building uses design and technology that works with nature. It promotes a sense of community, a sense of place."

It is not the high tech, sophisticated technology that will lead to sustainability. The way to build is to do the dumb simple things that everybody did before we had cheap power, which makes this just about the smartest building around. ::DJC Building Green, ::DJC.com, ::Weber+Thomson

Tags: Air Conditioning | Architecture | Seattle