Architects collaborate to complete new civic offices in Houston
The design of the new 275,000 sq ft General Services Administration (GSA) Office Building is generated by careful integration of concerns for security, sustainability, and appropriate image into a thoroughly synthesized design solution. Targeting LEED certification, the GSA building has been carefully designed to maximise environmental sensitivity, promote daylighting and views, and provide for the potential of solar energy capture.
A lightweight metal frame was hung off of the concrete walls to carry a 'second skin' for the building. Heavily fritted laminated glass is attached to the lightweight frame with stainless steel clips. The almost opaque glass, which is placed away from the actual thermal wall of the building, shades the structure substantially from direct heat gain from the hot Texas sun. The space between the two skins becomes a significantly cooled microclimate reducing the load requirements for air conditioning systems. Apertures in the glass skin, sized somewhat smaller than the actual windows, are carefully placed to provide day-lighting with reduced glare for interior work spaces. The concrete walls are sheathed in aluminum shingles that both reflect heat and allow the high thermal mass of the concrete to benefit the temperature stability of the structure.
In the lush green context of suburban Houston the colour of the building feels natural and integral. Tall cottonweed trees near the building on the south side complement the colours and delicate articulation of its surface. The north side of the building, where no sun protection is necessary, has no 'second skin'. The aluminum surface is fully revealed and is animated by varied window patterns reflecting the extremely divergent view and lighting requirements of functions on this face of the building.
This project was designed and completed in joint venture by Leo A Daly / LAN + PageSoutherlandPage