Metropolis magazine and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced the launch of a new design competition, NEXT GENERATION 2011: GET ZERO, aimed at taking an ordinary government office building in Los Angeles and transforming it into an environmentally-sustainable showcase that will have “zero environmental impact.” GSA, which manages some 350 million square-feet of office space in 8,000 buildings in 2,000 communities, is being challenged by Administrator Martha Johnson to achieve “zero environmental footprint” for its existing buildings (see earlier post). According to Metropolis, Johnson sees this project akin to ”the Apollo Space Project of the 1960s.”
NEXT GENERATION 2011: GET ZERO will use the eight-story building at 300 North Los Angeles Street (in the Civic Center area of Los Angeles) as the primary test for net-zero government building design. The building is an ”entirely commonplace eight-story 1960s-era Los Angeles office building that is remarkable only for being typical of hundreds of other GSA mid-century modern buildings, scattered across the 50 states.”
The competition will ask entrants to dramatically improve the performance of the building while also creating something beautiful. ”Entrants may be teams working together to transform the entire building (and its surroundings), or individuals or small groups tackling one or two individual systems and elements (facade, roof, fenestration, interior furnishings and equipment, signage and way-finding, among many other details).”
Susan Szenasy, Editor-in-Chief of Metropolis, also put out a special call to landscape architects to get involved. ”It’s a great project for landscape architects. The existing paved plazas, fountain, and site landscape could be turned into a system for managing stormwater and reusing greywater. Landscape architects rarely get involved with Next Generation — this would be a good time to put forth an effort.”
To qualify, entrants must themselves be part of the next generation of designers — this includes students and design professionals who have been practicing ten years or less. The winning team will win a $10,000 prize, but also get “career-building attention” through a TV series sponsored by PBS and inclusion in the Metropolis film, Brilliant Simplicity. But perhaps more importantly, the winning design will also have broad impact as a future model for the revamp of GSA’s building stock. GSA has access to some $5.5 billion in recovery funds, $4 billion of which is to be spent on energy efficiency and design improvements.
Image credit: Metropolis magazine