For the first time a tenant retrofit project has met conditions of the international "Living Building Challenge" certification, and the lucky winner is the Natural Resource Defense Council's (NRDC) Chicago offices in the landmark throne-shaped Civic Opera House. Studio Gang gets to bask in the glory as well, as the architect. An excerpt from the press release:
"We wanted to break through boundaries with this project and so did the NRDC," said Jeanne Gang. "By taking on the Living Building Challenge, we essentially joined the movement to require transparency in the content of building materials. Just as the labeling revolution has transformed the food industry, this move toward greater transparency encourages all manufacturers to declare the content of their materials and the chemicals used in their production. This will change the way we design and how we choose the environments we inhabit. I am very encouraged by this method of measuring sustainability because it has the potential to create real change in the manufacturing processes." Studio Gang also collaborated with NRDC staff to reconsider the traditional office space for attorneys. By distributing quiet areas and reservable, small-scale conference spaces, the team was able to eliminate private offices altogether and allow natural daylight to permeate the space. Finishes include various reclaimed materials, such as wood trim moldings that combine to create a fluted surface that defines the space, as well as felt-wrapped tectum panels; recycled glazing; and pre-owned, refurbished furniture elements. Rope sculptures for climbing plants, which filter the air and provide organic beauty, foster an engaging workspace that supports the important environmental advocacy taking place within it. Although it hardly matters in light the Living Building Challenge's rigorous demands, this project also scored LEED Platinum certification. Studio Gang and the NRDC have also collaborated on an ecologically-restorative vision for the South Branch, detailed in the 2011 publication Reverse Effect: Renewing Chicago's Waterways.
·Midwest Offices—Natural Resources Defense Council [Living Building Challenge]
·Studio Gang Coverage [Curbed Chicago]