Press Release

Lead Design Architect for NASA Sustainability Base, William McDonough + Partners, Recognized by NASA

By SpaceRef Editor
May 3, 2012
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Lead Design Architect for NASA Sustainability Base, William McDonough + Partners, Recognized by NASA

Global sustainability leader and his architecture firm conceived and designed the first “space station on Earth” for NASA at Ames Research Center

Global sustainability leader William McDonough, founding partner of William McDonough + Partners, and his team were recognized for their work on the new NASA Sustainability Base, located at NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. NASA Ames officials, including Associate Center Director Steve Zornetzer, recently commended the firm for their work on the project as the lead architect and design firm and especially for creating an innovative, Cradle to Cradle(R)-inspired design for the new building–all within conventional budget and schedule.

“William McDonough + Partners was the inspiration for one of the greenest federal buildings ever built, NASA’s new Sustainability Base,” said Steve Zornetzer, Associate Center Director, NASA Ames Research Center. “How fitting that the team studying our atmosphere and the health of planet Earth goes to work every day in a building that generates more electricity than it consumes. William McDonough + Partners proved to the world it was possible to design for good — on time and within budget. We hope to inspire other designers and buildings, federally funded and otherwise.”

The NASA Sustainability Base was dedicated on April 20th with elected local and state leaders including Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, U.S Congressional Representative Zoe Lofgren and Representative Anna Eshoo, who were all on site to tour the LEED-Platinum building. President Obama’s Science and Technology Advisor, John P. Holdren also addressed the crowd with a recorded statement that emphasized the President’s commitment to supporting greener federal buildings like Sustainability Base. The finished project, now operable and in-use at the base, combines NASA technology and Cradle to Cradle-inspired design to create a truly unique and efficient building that is a testament to great collaboration.

“It’s not every day we get to design a space station on planet Earth with real-life rocket scientists,” said William McDonough. “Steve Zornetzer and his team have inspired us. NASA, it turns out, is extraordinarily well positioned to embrace and support the idea I have been exploring for years–that design is the signal for human intention. Working with the amazing team at NASA, we have created a concept, now realized as a building–NASA’s first space station on Earth.”

“I have talked about ‘a building like a tree’ for decades, and this project represents a unique merger of that concept with technological advances and anticipatory design,” said McDonough.

San Francisco-based Partner David Johnson added “This building is poised to demonstrate ‘continuous improvement’–the heart of the Cradle to Cradle philosophy–in the built environment. This is due in large part to NASA’s commitment to making it a true test bed for technologies and strategies over time.”

“We’re humbly going beyond the smart building to continuously search for the genius building,” McDonough said. “A most exciting part is that we are taking the lessons of NASA to China. There is wonderful potential for dialogue around this kind of design thinking.”

Just days after the dedication of NASA’s Sustainability Base, McDonough went to Beijing to serve as an official member of the U.S. delegation to the 3rd U.S.-China Innovation Dialogue taking place May 1-2. McDonough had been invited by the U.S. government to represent the U.S. private sector and business-led innovation in this important meeting with senior government, science, technology and commercial leaders from both countries.

William McDonough + Partners worked closely with NASA and the project teams to produce the NASA Sustainability Base including Swinerton (contractor), AECOM (architect of record/landscape architect of record/structural and mechanical engineer), Loisos+Ubbelohde (daylighting, lighting and energy consultant), and Siteworks Studio (design landscape architect).

More information: William McDonough + Partners’ web site or go to the Sustainability Base’s home page to read about the NASA technology in the building.

About William McDonough + Partners

William McDonough + Partners is an architecture, planning, 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 as articulated by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their book, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. McDonough is a leading global sustainability counselor to the world’s largest enterprises and governments and his design perspective ranges from planetary to country to regions to cities to buildings to products to materials to molecules.

Cradle to Cradle is a registered trademark of McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry.

SpaceRef staff editor.