William McDonough + Partners Celebrates Dedication of Sustainability Base - NASA's First Space Station on Earth

Press Release From: William McDonough + Partners
Posted: Friday, April 20, 2012

image William McDonough + Partners, a leading design firm, is proud to announce that the official dedication day and ceremony for the NASA Sustainability Base, which has been called NASA's first space station on Earth, took place today at Moffett Field. As the design architect for the project, William McDonough + Partners' innovative design created a facility that embodies NASA's spirit, fosters collaboration, supports health and well-being, and goes beyond LEED(R) Platinum in its pursuit of Cradle to Cradle(R)-inspired solutions.

The NASA Sustainability Base is a highly intelligent and intuitive facility designed to anticipate and react to changes in sunlight, temperature, wind and occupancy. The building will optimize its performance automatically in response to internal and external changes in real time. The building received its LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council earlier this month.
"Our firm is proud to celebrate the dedication day at NASA Sustainability Base today," said William McDonough. "We have had the honor to work with NASA and a number of firms to make this a reality. We are humbled by the opportunity and inspired by the possibility. This building could be the first to truly demonstrate what 'continuous improvement' means in the build environment, which truly embodies the spirit and purpose of Cradle to Cradle."

NASA executives and California Congressional Representatives attended the dedication today and California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom arranged for a tour the day before the ceremony as well to see the building and learn about its design and innovation. Representatives from the full design and construction team were also on hand for the ceremony, including Swinerton (contractor), AECOM (architect of record/landscape architect of record/structural and mechanical engineer), Loisos+Ubbelohde (daylighting/lighting/energy consultant), and Siteworks Studio (design landscape architect).

William McDonough + Partners designed the building to embody its founder's positive, "more good" approach, rather than pursuing "less bad" strategies. This included emphasizing the human health and well-being factors that would be critical for a supportive office for those working at the NASA Ames campus. One example of this is in the innovative exoskeleton design. The approach offers increased structural performance during seismic events, provides an armature for daylighting and shading strategies, and creates a column-free interior that facilitates workplace flexibility. It also becomes the icon for the building, recalling lunar modules and satellites. Other project innovations range from aggressive daylighting and natural ventilation design to in-depth materials screening. The resulting building will be a flexible workplace filled with glare-free daylight, fresh air and abundant connections to the outdoors, serviced by systems that will use only renewable energy.

"Working closely with Bill McDonough and his team was inspirational and extremely beneficial. The collaborative process yielded a highly sustainable and beautiful design--optimized for building performance and representative of our values," said Steve Zornetzer, Associate Center Director, NASA Ames Research Center. "I see this as a prototype of a 21st-century building. This is the way we're going to have to think about building in the future."

In addition to being a high-performance workplace at the Ames Research Center, the project will also be a test-bed for NASA technologies and partnerships, some of which are already under way. NASA is working with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories (LBNL) to ensure that monitoring systems and data collection will help ensure that this project will continuously improve over time. According to Stephen Selkowitz, Department Head, Building Technologies, Environmental Energy Technologies Division, LBNL, "This is an exciting and potentially groundbreaking building on many levels--design process, technology, systems integration, occupant-focus, and smart operations. We look forward to continuing our collaborations with NASA and William McDonough + Partners and to all this building will have to share in the years ahead."

About William McDonough + Partners

William McDonough + Partners is an architecture, community design, and consulting firm with offices in Charlottesville, Virginia, and San Francisco. The firm applies a positive, principled design philosophy based on Cradle to Cradle(R) thinking, which takes its cues from living systems and seeks to expand on enduring standards of quality. Cradle to Cradle is a registered trademark of McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry . To learn more visit

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