Steven Holl's Whitney Water Purification Facility
Rarely do buildings serving such utilitarian functions get much architecture, usually they are banal boxes turned out by engineering firms. Perhaps once in a century do citizens get something like the RC Harris plant in Toronto or a gem like this from Steven Holl. One of the top ten green projects of 2006 as chosen by the AIA/COTE (see earlier Treehugger), most of it lies under a vast 30,000 square foot accessible green roof and while the public spaces are enclosed in the 360 foot long stainless steel clad building.
The exterior siding is stainless steel: "Because of the building's shape, the team wanted its exterior to have a satin sheen that would pick up the qualities of landscape and sky and change with the light conditions and seasons. The sliver is made of prefabricated steel hoops enclosed with metal decking and then clad with flat-lock, stainless steel shingles. The thin shingles warp in two directions, stiffening them and minimizing denting. The shingles absorb some heat from the sun, but the form and shape of the shingles allow it to radiate the heat as the solar gain moves quickly to the edge of the material and dissipates."
The green roof acts as a giant filter bed."Following the natural laws of gravity, water flows across the site and within the purification plant. Gardens filter and store stormwater to prevent runoff. As the water courses toward its clean state, it creates small program potentials within the vast space of the new park. Aligned along the base of the sliver are the finish water pumps, which distribute the clean water to the region."