NASA’s Sustainability Base Tops Out

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The steel structure is complete at the NASA Ames Sustainability Base, a William McDonough + Partners design. This is a major landmark in construction the project that is designed to be greenest in the federal portfolio. A ceremonial “topping out” event and beam-signing took place on March 12 to commemorate the completion of structural steel for the NASA Ames Research Center’s Sustainability Base. This represents a landmark for the building, expected to be one of the nation’s highest performing federal buildings and designed for a Platinum LEED® rating.

Sustainability Base will be a living experimental platform, designed to incorporate advanced building technologies as they evolve, while adhering to the Cradle to Cradle philosophy and providing a healthy, supportive and nurturing environment for the NASA workforce.

“We are extremely proud of the collaboration between NASA and the design team
on Sustainability Base. The project goal was to design a platform for continuous innovation and evolution–a safe, healthy, and living model of sustainability to inspire its users and the world,” said Kevin Burke, AIA, design partner on the project for William McDonough + Partners. “When we started the design of Sustainability Base with NASA, it was clear that this was an opportunity to give form to the spirit of this phenomenal organization and embody the concepts of Cradle to Cradle thinking.”

The building relies heavily on the integration of passive and active energy strategies to achieve exemplary energy performance. Extensive shading devices attached to the exo-skeleton structure, significantly reduce heat gain in the building while helping to optimize daylight quality and reduce glare. The narrow, 50’ wide floorplates and operable windows throughout enable natural ventilation to be the primary mode of operation. These passive energy strategies are augmented by geothermal wells, high performance lighting, radiant cooling, intelligent building systems and on-site photovoltaic energy generation. Water performance is optimized through intelligent landscape design and non-potable irrigation systems, and on-site grey water treatment.

“Sustainability Base will be both the test bed where NASA aerospace technology is applied to our everyday living and working environment, and a proof point for what is possible with an environmentally positive building,” said Steven Zornetzer, associate director of NASA Ames.

TEAM: Design Architect, William McDonough + Partners; Architect of Record, AECOM; MEP, Structural, Civil, AECOM; Daylighting/Lighting Design, Energy Consultant, Loisos + Ubbelohde; Landscape Architect, Siteworks Studio; Landscape Architect of Record, EDAW; Materials Assessment, MBDC; Wastewater Design, Todd Ecological Design, Inc.; Cost Estimating, TBD Consulting

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