GE’s desire to consolidate and expand divisions of its renewable energy business was realised through a master planning study and sustainable building selection process. The project ultimately preserved a portion of the client’s existing plant infrastructure, transforming it into the Renewable Energy Division Headquarters. Completed in April 2010 and located in Schenectady, NY, the adaptive reuse converted an original, 100-year-old production facility into a 202,000-sq-ft office, marketing, and research & development environment that houses divisions associated with Wind Turbines, Solar Power and Smart Grid technology.
The client’s expressed intent was to transform the existing facility aesthetically, functionally and mechanically. A new building envelope redefines the architectural character of the existing building, setting an energy-efficient and sustainably inspired technical aesthetic against the background of neighbouring utilitarian facilities. The creation of a new, four-storey atrium and executive conference centre provides functional spaces unique to the plant’s current infrastructure. These spaces are articulated through the use of sustainable wood and natural finishes, contributing to a warm atmosphere.
A sunshade 'blade', whose form references the design and construction of wind turbine blade technology, cantilevers off the new atrium’s main entries on the south and east façades to address pedestrian scale. A filigree of shading devices extends above the main atrium’s south façade, working with the lower scrim to reduce solar gain. The addition of a global wind monitoring center within the atrium establishes an energetic marketing and 24/7 monitoring environment that showcases the client’s position as a leader in renewable energy worldwide. Existing windows were more than doubled in size throughout the building’s public workspaces, introducing natural light to more than 75 percent of occupied floor areas.
Telescoping ceilings assist by channeling daylight deep into floor plan arrangements. Natural light is controlled through the use of internal / operable and external / fixed sunshading devices and high performance, low-e / reflective glazing. In addition, new high-efficiency mechanical and electrical systems were carefully integrated throughout the building, resulting in a 25 percent decrease in energy use in comparison to benchmarked facilities. A complete raised flooring system enhances the client’s flexibility to change office program layouts frequently to accommodate future uses. Certified LEED Silver, the project demonstrates the client’s identity as a champion of energy delivery and efficiency.