THE GREEN BUILDING
The Green Building is the first LEED Platinum project in the city of Louisville and the first LEED certified adaptive re-use project in the state of Kentucky. Completed in 2009 and located in the East Market district of Louisville, a federally classified distressed area at the time of construction, The Green Building has become the catalyst to the revitalization of the neighborhood, now the hip center for arts and sustainability, coined NuLu, or ‘New Louisville. NuLu is now a pedestrian-friendly arts district guided by a culture of sustainability and stacked with galleries, cafes, boutiques and several other buildings pursuing LEED certification.
The Green Building project rescued a 115 year old former dry goods store from decades of misuse, resuscitating its structural masonry shell, and infusing it with a modern core, including a 40 foot high lobby, expansive natural lighting, eco-friendly materials, and renewable energy systems. Based on the idea that sensible architecture emerges between spatial and programmatic relationships, form environment research (fer) studio designed the project to instill an experience of Place within the surrounding environment. Establishing a design order enabled the sustainable features of the project to fall into place and set up a natural codependency between design and sustainability.
Today The Green Building is a 10,175 ft2 mixed-use commercial building housing a gallery, event space, offices, tenant office spaces, conference room, and a separate tenant restaurant space. The building's original mortar joint façade remained intact while the 1980's storefront was replaced by an angled, recessed wood and aluminum façade that recedes visually to draw visitors in towards the entry. A café fronts the East Market Street side and a separate entry draws visitors back along the interior 'street' to the triple height lobby space in the belly of the building. Though the space is long and narrow, natural light and outdoor views flood the interior through an ascending glass spine that bridges all three floors and breaks the roof into three planes. The spine cascades down the backside of the space, providing views to the green
roof below. The main gallery below the green roof is home to a digital movie screening room and a monthly rotating art gallery.
The semi-enclosed outdoor courtyard towards the rear of the building provides a warm weather event space shaded by trees and a canopy of 81 solar panels cantilevered on the existing roof bar joists. Just outside the courtyard and 225 feet below, a dozen geothermal wells provide renewable energy to the building, and, concealed in the basement, a cylindrical ice storage system freezes during off peak hours and generates cool air at π the normal energy cost. An energy recovery unit is located at the highest and lowest points of the building to capture hot and cold air and redistribute throughout the building.
Existing old growth wood members have been blasted with corn husks and planed down for reuse in plain view throughout the building. The century-old drafty masonry shell of the original building has been completely sealed with inert recycled insulating materials and the original window openings, previously filled in with cinderblocks, have been restored with low-e insulated glass. Exterior louvers are used on the south side to prevent heat build-up from sunlight and renewable energy sources from photovoltaics and geothermal heating and cooling help increase the overall energy efficiency of the building. No chlorofluorocarbon-based refrigerants are used in the air conditioning and no halon gases in the fire suppression system; control systems meter HVAC systems, water usage and energy performance of the building.
As the beacon for sustainability and the arts in Louisville, the primary goal of The Green Building Project is the revitalization of the emerging community of East Market/NuLu. In equal effort to support the local economy, as well as earn points towards LEED certification, The Green Building relied on local businesses and materials during construction and continues to do so for day-to-day maintenance. Also, many of the items salvaged for recycling were given to local businesses for reuse. With The Green Building as the hub, other development plans for NuLu include a public, 2-acre downtown marketplace with produce and food products from local growers and vendors.