AGC comes alive...

Monday 07 Mar 2011

Designs for AGC's new 'living building' from Cannon Design

The Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC), a Public Contract School on the southwest side of Chicago, sought a building that would embody their goal to restore harmony between mankind and our natural environment. AGC's pedagogy prizes the environment for its role in maintaining health and nutrition, preserving limited resources, and learning from our world's ecosystems. In response to their pursuit, the design team created a campus that would realise human /environment synchronisation, uphold the standards of the Living Building Challenge and teach through its amenities.

The design fuses learning spaces and the landscape, reinforcing an inextricable linkage between the two. Building roofs slope into the surrounding grounds allowing sheep to graze on top of learning studios. Agricultural plots and orchards supply fresh produce for two organic meals offered daily. Natural materials at once pay homage to the site and connect the inside with the out.

To satisfy the living building challenge, the site is carbon neutral. Rain gardens, a porous parking lot and waste water wetlands maintain net-zero water usage. Wind turbines, a ground source heat pump system, energy recovery AHU's, chilled beams, LED lighting, a super-insulated building envelope, solar panels and a photovoltaic array guarantee net-positive energy usage. Composting facilities ensure the school contributes little to landfills and closes the loop of agricultural growth. 

And all of these site amenities provide a rich set of hands-on learning experiences for the students. The site is fully accessible with walking paths winding throughout and into the outside community. Greenhouses allow for agricultural study throughout the winter. Energy and agricultural technologies employed in the site provide opportunities for applied problem solving.

Following a site change, this design can no longer be implemented due to the Living Building Challenge's required site specificity. Nevertheless, AGC and Cannon Design will continue to pursue a design that honors our natural environment as it nourishes our bodies, hearts and minds. 

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