Top prize for The Bullitt Center

Monday 23 Dec 2013

The Miller Hull Partnership wins 2013 WAN Sustainable Building of the Year

Following the rigorous selection process to find the six contenders for the 2013 WAN Sustainable Building of the Year shortlist, our expert judging panel, consisting of Mikael Stenqvist (White Arkitekter), Ann Marie Aguilar (Arup Associates), Cees van der Spek  (OVG Real Estate), Huib van Zeijl (Equipe) and Mark Reddington (LMN architects), had the difficult task of selecting a winner from their midst.

Each shortlisted entry tackled the challenge of sustainability in a different way, creatively solving specific problems to their varying sectors ranging from education to commercial to healthcare. From saving energy in a hospital in Norway to a desert learning centre in the United Arab Emirates facing extreme exposure and temperatures tackling water consumption. But in the end, there could only be one winner.

That accolade, we are delighted to announce, went to The Bullitt Center by The Miller Hull Partnership. Built in Seattle, United States and initiated by Earth Day co-founder Denis Hayes with sustainability at the forefront of the design process from the off. The result is a design that has tackled the Living Building Challenge and come out the other side with a Net Zero Building Certification; the scheme is a shining example of sustainable building for the future. Ann Marie Aguilar of Arup Associates commented that: “This building really sets the debate about how to design buildings to be truly sustainable and make the lowest possible impact.” And we couldn’t agree more.

The Bullitt Center is the first leasable market rate commercial structure that meets the targets of the Living Building Challenge to the Net Zero Energy standard, including adhering to the omission of all toxic chemicals that appear on the prohibited ‘red list’ and also ensuring ‘One hundred percent of the project’s energy needs must be supplied by on-site renewable energy on a net annual basis’. Our panel really thought it shone through as an inspiration to future projects aiming for this level of sustainability, and as Mikael put it, 'this building really tells a story'.

Having met the entire annually targeted energy production in just seven months, the project was a clear success. The overhanging photovoltaic rooftop as well as the facade provide the energy for the entire building, supplying 230,000 kwh/year. The end result being that the overall energy usage is around 20% of that of the other buildings of its type in Seattle.

Being a leasable building, the aesthetic design of this project would also be an important part of its overall finish, and it did not leave the jury wanting. Considering that part of the Living Building Challenge entails that materials be locally sourced from a renewable supply, the finished project included a stunning ‘irresistible stair’ rather than an elevator, operable floor to ceiling windows and heavy timber framing throughout. The result was surmised by Mark Reddington: “Attractive design and user experience both inside the facility as well as its relationships to context as an urban building.”

The overall feeling was that this project has creatively looked at sustainable building in the context of its environment of the city of Seattle, taking into consideration the local climate and the materials of that area. The team had obviously pulled together on this project and Mark Redddington commented: “There was obviously a deep commitment and collaboration from client, public agencies, and full multidisciplinary design team to making important new discoveries for sustainable design.” And all in all, this project was the clear favourite as being the project that had most effectively, and in keeping with context, no compromise on design elements to create something sustainable for the future.

So all that is left is to say a hearty congratulations to The Miller Hull Partnership and all involved in the project. It has been a truly educational awards category for 2013 and we will be keeping our eyes open for your future projects.

Faye Chalmers
WAN AWARDS Co-ordinator

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