Originally constructed as a flat, windowless, cinderblock warehouse, Phipps Conservatory and partners have adapted a former public works building on its lower site into an Exhibit Staging Center that will enhance the health and wellness of staff members who use it. Exploring the Exhibit Staging Center (ESC) today, visitors see a beautiful building at the cutting edge of sustainability and human and environmental health. For decades, though, the facility sat largely unused adjacent to an otherwise lush and vibrant campus. Where others might have torn the building down, Phipps saw an exciting challenge—with thousands of old building stock in Pittsburgh and other cities around the world, if we could transform this old cinderblock building into one of the greenest buildings in the world, it would prove that any building can become a green building, and become a showcase where the garden’s 500,000+ annual guests can learn about high performance buildings and understand that they are beautiful, healthy and comfortable places to live, learn, work and play.
Global Future Design Awards 2022: Discounted Entries Open Now! Save $50
Super Early Discount – 20th October 2021 to 30th December 2021 –
$199 = $149
🏆 Second Award
Global Future Design Awards 2021
Exhibit Staging Center
Cultural Architecture Built
FortyEighty Architecture, Massaro Corporation, Common Ground, Iams Consulting, LLC, Studio Phipps
©Lofty Views; Paul g. Wiegman
The ESC showcases the latest in green building technology, transforming an eyesore on a former brownfield into an environment dedicated to the well-being of its occupants, visitors and the ecology of its site. This dynamic adaptation is designed to achieve three of the world’s most rigorous green building standards: Living Building Challenge, LEED® Platinum and WELL Platinum. The building is also one of the first to achieve the Well Health-Safety Rating, a new standard for occupant safety created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ESC is net-positive energy, with an ultra-efficient lighting system that runs on direct current (DC) electricity produced by rooftop solar panels. All rainwater that falls on the ESC is managed on site, and all sanitary water is cleaned through a constructed wetland system and reused.
Exhibit, maintenance and grounds staff, a group whose well-being is often overlooked, are the primary occupants of the ESC, which is designed to ensure that the health and well-being of all staff members is a top priority. Additional features available to all Phipps staff that encourage physical and mental well-being include a yoga studio, fitness center and meditation room.
Once a paved-over public works yard and renovated as the first SITES Platinum certified site, the ESC which straddles and includes this site now consists of lush gardens, beautiful buildings, and a rain-fed lagoon with a thriving aquatic ecosystem.
The restoration did not simply minimize negative environmental construction impacts, but was regenerative, actually improving the health of the ecosystems in which it is nested while providing a healthy space for employees and guests. The ESC proves that the greenest buildings can be ones that already exist. With the right priorities, even the most unhealthy spaces can become ones that are good for the people who inhabit them and beneficial to the environment.
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