True Green Cities / Preserving Modern Public Housing

The Shoreline Apartments designed by Paul Rudolph, were built in downtown Buffalo in 1974.  Five of the buildings are under threat of demolition.

The Shoreline Apartments designed by Paul Rudolph, were built in downtown Buffalo in 1974. Five of the buildings are under threat of demolition.

Buffalo has some of the best and most groundbreaking architecture in America and indeed in the world.  As one of the few cities with masterpieces by Richardson, Sullivan, and Wright, it has long been a destination for students and lovers of architecture.  And in recent years, a renaissance of sorts is reviving its landmarks and reactivating the neighborhoods.  Grain elevators and daylight factories that influenced LeCorbusier, Erich Mendelsohn and Reyner Banham are finding new life while Richardson and Olmsted’s long vacant Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane becomes a boutique hotel, conference center and architecture center.  Wright’s Darwin D. Martin House has been restored and reconstructed and Sullivan’s Guaranty building, often called the first real skyscraper, has been restored for a second time in 25 years.  Buildings by Richard Upjohn, Daniel Burnham, and the Saarinens fill in the landscape.  But what is less recognized is that Buffalo’s architectural innovation continued through the modern era and these traditional icons can be found across the street from buildings by Yamasaki, Edward Durrell Stone, SOM, I. M. Pei and Paul Rudolph.  And like much of the rest of the country, Buffalo’s preservationists are now finding themselves in the midst of battles to save its modern architecture.  For the rest of this article, see this month’s Special Brief on Public Housing in the Docomomo_US Newsletter.  

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True Green Cities / A Year of Preserving and Sustaining – 2013

The historic 500 Block of Main Street in downtown Buffalo, NY from my loft window.

The historic 500 Block of Main Street in downtown Buffalo, NY from my loft window.

This past year was the first full year with my life and work consolidated (mostly!) in my new work/live loft in the heart of downtown Buffalo.  Those of you who follow my blog and Facebook know that I’ve had a challenging year looking out my fantastic windows – a historic downtown Main Street streetscape, mostly vacant and often bleak.  But there’s been development activity in almost every building on my block, the 500 block, so it seems my urban pioneering is paying off and by next summer there should be more activity, a coffee shop, several restaurants and more full-time residents. There’s even a hint of a grocery store.  So with 2014 looking very hopeful and bright, I remember all the good things that 2013 brought BAC/Architecture + Planning, PLLC!

Solidifying the Business of BAC [A+P]

The storefront for BAC [A+P] on Main Street in downtown Buffalo, NY.

The storefront for BAC [A+P] on Main Street in downtown Buffalo, NY.

It took about a year, but much of my business graphics and verbiage are now federally trademarked.  The logo BAC[A+P], my tagline “Greening What’s Already Here” and the name of my sustainability management plans, “The Greening Plan” have all been officially trademarked by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

It also took about a year, but finally the business is also a certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), certified nationally by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council which makes it pretty easy to register with local and state agencies when needed, although many organizations and agencies accept this certification outright.

And a BAC[A+P] display panel now graces my storefront at 522 Main Street, adjacent to the Hyatt Regency.  So stop by and take a look the next time you find yourself in downtown Buffalo!

Project Highlights

The Lee H. Nelson Hall in Natchitoches, LA, headquarters of NCPTT.

The Lee H. Nelson Hall in Natchitoches, LA, headquarters of NCPTT.

With my colleagues at Apollo BBC, engineers in Houston, we have completed two exciting sustainability management plans – for the Lee H. Nelson Hall in Natchitoches, LA and the Jesse Lee Home in Seward, AK, both historic sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  Both projects demonstrate how to integrate historic preservation principles with green building practices.

Lee H. Nelson Hall, NCPTT Headquarters, Natchitoches, LA  

Looking across the front lawn to the Lee H. Nelson Hall in Natchitoches, LA.

Looking across the front lawn to the Lee H. Nelson Hall in Natchitoches, LA.

Lee H. Nelson Hall was originally constructed in 1923 and designed by the firm of Favrot and Livaudais, architects who were responsible for numerous downtown New Orleans buildings, and other public buildings around Louisiana. The structure originally served as a classroom building and activity center for female physical education students on the campus of what is now Northwestern State University (NSU). After 30 years of use as a storage facility, a new National Center for Preservation Technology and Training was created by the National Park Service and located in the building in 2001, “using technology to serve the future of America’s heritage through applied research and professional training.”

BAC/A+P, in joint venture with Apollo BBC of Houston, is developing and managing “The Greening Plan” – a Sustainability Management Plan for the building which includes running eco-charrettes and conducting an energy audit. The plan uses LEED EB: Operations & Maintenance as the framework for maintenance and capital improvements, targeting LEED Gold.  Stay tuned for NCPTT’s new webpage which will trace the plan and the project.

Jesse Lee Home, Seward, AK

The Jesse Lee Home in Seward, Alaska.

The Jesse Lee Home in Seward, Alaska.

The Jesse Lee Home was built between 1926 and 1937 as an orphanage in Seward, Alaska.  The complex was comprised of the Jewel Guard Hall, Balto Hall, Goode Hall, Mission Territorial School and various outbuildings.  Today only Jewel Guard Hall, Balto Hall, the foundations of Goode Hall and their related arcades remain.  Designed by architect, Stanley Shaw, the buildings are representative of the less ornate versions of the Tudor Revival Style popular in the 1920s and 1930s.  Vacant since 1964, the site is being remade as the Balto School, a leadership school for high school students, under the guidance of the Friends of the Jesse Lee Home.

BAC/A+P, in joint venture with Apollo BBC of Houston, is providing sustainability services to the Friends and their design team. After evaluating the project for both the Living Building Challenge and LEED rating systems, the project, which is also a rehabilitation tax credit project, will be targeting LEED Gold for Schools.

Restoring Buffalo’s heritage

The historic courtyard of the Buffalo Homeopathic Hospital.

The historic courtyard of the Buffalo Homeopathic Hospital.

BAC [A+P] prepared a comprehensive history of the historic Buffalo Homeopathic Hospital, originally built in 1911 by Boston-based architect George Newton, located at Gates Circle in the Delaware District of Buffalo.  Although subsumed by the growth of Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital, and now vacant, much of the original Spanish Revival concrete structures remain. The buildings were originally intended to be part of a new veterinary university in Buffalo. While that project did not proceed forward, these lovely and significant structures may see new life yet in a new development project.

The grand opening of the rehabilitated South Lawn at the Richardson Olmsted Complex.

The grand opening of the rehabilitated South Lawn at the Richardson Olmsted Complex.

Barbara has been involved in the preservation of the National Historic Landmark Richardson Olmsted Complex (the former Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane) since the early 1980s.  She serves on the board of the nonprofit Richardson Center Corporation which was created by the New York State governor in 2006.  She took a year off of the board in 2011 to manage the institutional development of a new architecture center being inserted into the historic buildings, and for the past year has overseen, as a board member again, the design for the new boutique hotel, architecture center and conference center being developed at the site in the core historic H.H. Richardson buildings with her colleagues of the RCC.  The first major construction project at the site was completed in the fall – the rehabilitation of the South Lawn.  Its grand opening in September was one of Buffalo’s proudest moments.

Sharing Preservation and Sustainability Thoughts

Enjoying the newly opened South Lawn at H. H. Richardson's and Olmsted & Vaux's masterpiece in Buffalo, NY.

Enjoying the newly opened South Lawn at H. H. Richardson’s and Olmsted & Vaux’s masterpiece in Buffalo, NY.

Barbara was invited to write a column on sustainability and preservation for the international organization, UBM Future Cities, “the global community for 21st century city decision makers.”  Her recent topics have included preserving modern heritage, rethinking the NY Public Library and LEED certification of historic buildings.

Barbara continues to teach graduate seminars at both the Sustainable Interior Environments program at FIT in New York City and the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning.

With offices in Buffalo, Washington, DC and Winston-Salem, NC, BAC [A+P] is now almost three years old with projects across the continent. Many thanks to my wonderful clients and colleagues and Happy New Year to you and yours!  And let us know if we can help you “Green What’s Already Here.”

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True Green Cities / Greenbuild – Healthy Cities, Healthy Discussions

Dilworth Plaza, the place in front of Philadelphia City Hall, is being converted into a green site as part of the city's Clean City, Green Water program.

Dilworth Plaza, the plaza in front of Philadelphia City Hall, is being converted into a green site as part of the city’s Green City, Clean Waters program.

A Report from Greenbuild 2013

This year is a transformational one for USGBC.  It’s its 20th Anniversary and LEED v4 was just launched at the Green build Convention this week in Philadelphia.  LEED v4 is undeniably the most change the green world has seen in this rating system since it was launched in 2000. A more rigorous approach to science and a more vigorous approach to health underlie the changes.  This is the 6th Greenbuild I’ve attended and for me, the most comprehensive since I’m not speaking and I am able to participate in everything from educational sessions to keynote to the Expo.  This is the first of several reports on this year’s Greenbuild.

A Green City

Greenbuild is in Philadelphia this year and I must say every time I come to Philadelphia I am more impressed and enjoy it more.  The city itself is going through its own green transformation, having just passed a benchmarking law similar to New York City’s and taking on really difficult infrastructure changes.  There is one specific project I’ve walked by every day while at Greenbuild which I think sets the framework for an innovative way to positively impact your city.

Dilworth Plaza at Philadelphia City Hall is being remade with green infrastructure to mitigate the city's combined sewer problem. Image courtesy Greensource Magazine.

Dilworth Plaza at Philadelphia City Hall is being remade with green infrastructure to mitigate the city’s combined sewer problem. Image courtesy Greensource Magazine.

Philadelphia has one of the oldest combined sewer systems in the country. And for those who don’t know, combined sewer systems are no longer desirable.   To upgrade it and separate it out would cost in the range of $10 billion.   Instead, the city launched the Green City, Clean Waters program launched in 2011 which commits the city to a 25-year “remaking” program.  Instead of building an entirely new city sewer system they are  retrofitting 10,000 acres of targeted locations with green infrastructure as a main approach to managing the sewage overflows.  This mimics the natural hydrocycle – instead of piping water off the surface, new green infrastructure catches the rainwater, uses it for irrigation, prevents erosion, and reduces flow of pollutants into adjacent waterways.

The prime example of this is Dilworth Plaza in front of City Hall.  Rejuvenation of this previously bleak plaza is focusing on water capture – the new infrastructure will capture and use 80 to 90 percent of its rainwater on site, even though much of the site forms a roof for 3 stories of transit infrastructure below.  Street trees, lawn irrigation and a public fountain form the core of the new plaza. The interactive fountain will use thin columns of mist to trace the paths of the trains and will become a public skating rink in winter.  Philadelphia City Hall is one of the key buildings in Center City and rethinking this crucial urban plaza to become a cultural, social and healthy destination represents the significance of the city’s new thinking.   (This section is condensed from an article in this month’s Greensource magazine)

A Green Breakfast

Site plan of the new green infrastructure features for the remaking of Dilworth Plaza.  Image courtesy of Greensource magazine.

Site plan of the new green infrastructure features for the remaking of Dilworth Plaza. Image courtesy of Greensource magazine.

This year I attended the “Women in Green Power Breakfast.”  Usually I stay away from anything with “woman” in the title (see my previous blog “Just Don’t Call Me A Woman Architect”), but I was encouraged to attend by several friends who went to the inaugural one last year and were pleasantly surprised.  This was nothing like the AIA Woman events I’ve previously attended.  It was sold out, it was full of energy, leadership and ambition and it was filled with women/people who CARE about saving the world and aren’t scared to say why and how.

The topic was “health” and healthy buildings and the morning was divided into discussion at your own table followed by a panel of thought leaders from places as diverse as Bank of America, Interface and USGBC.  The women at my table were as impressive as the women on the stage – Director of Sustainability for the City of Philadelphia, Director of Sustainability for George Mason University, Director of Sustainability at the International Monetary Fund, a Director for the HQE rating system in Paris, and an emerging professional from the interior design graduate program at the Corcoran. We all had a lot to say about what makes buildings healthy, particularly how people experience environments differently according to gender and nationality.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is the convention’s keynote speaker.  She’s famous for saying “It takes a village” and one of our speakers started out by saying “We are the village!”

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© Copyright Barbara Campagna – True Green Cities - 2011-2013