Boston, MA. The Hitchcock Center for the Environment with designLAB Architects received the Boston Society of Architects’ (BSA) 2018 Honor Award for Sustainable Design, presented in Boston on January 17, 2019.
The BSA jury selected the Hitchcock Center for it’s highest Honor Award in the Sustainable Design category noting that:
“Hitchcock Center for the Environment is a strong example of architecture’s power to educate. This center doesn’t merely talk the talk by housing an environmental educational program; it walks the walk. Living Building Challenge (LBC) designed, the structure is thoughtfully integrated with its site and existing systems. Its formal qualities, its graphics, and its performance achievements combine to tell a complete and compelling story about design.”
The jury’s comments and award provide recognition of a long-time Hitchcock Center goal – to create a building that serves as an educator, a teaching tool for all ages. Students and educators actively use the building, landscape, exhibits, and systems as a testing ground to ask, “What does sustainability look like in the built environment and in my community?”
Through programs and curricula, the building helps continually reinforce the Hitchcock Center’s mission to educate for a healthy planet. At a time when Americans spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, and the built environments around us account for approximately 40% of our national energy usage, the Hitchcock Center’s building is a powerful catalyst for new kinds of programming in sustainability education.
Examples of building as educator
Building educational programs
Completed in 2016, the Hitchcock Center’s 9,000 square foot Living Building, designed by designLAB architects (Boston) and built by Wright Builders (Northampton), is now an agent of change for our regional community, successfully achieving net-positive energy production in its first year of operation.
With full Living Building Challenge 2.1 certification pending in 2019, the project must prove it is actively meeting the requirements of seven “petals” (or performance categories): energy, materials, water, site, equity, beauty, and health. During the one-year performance period, projects must demonstrate their net-zero energy and water usage, as well as appeal to government agencies when regulations prevent net-zero building, and advocate with manufacturers to employ transparent, sustainable practices.
The Hitchcock Center pursued LBC for its advocacy and leadership in establishing better building practices, committing to the exclusive use of zero-toxicity, locally-sourced, and responsibly-harvested materials.
The broad impact on the future of sustainable design and planning was highlighted by the BSA jury in reviewing this year’s Honor Award projects. Their thinking echoes the categories and performance standards required by the Living Building Challenge and exhibited by the Hitchcock Center’s building.
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“Over the last few years, the sustainability conversation has advanced, sharpened, and shifted. Evident among the submitted work were numerous examples of how new strategies for materials, systems, energy, and design have been recently introduced or advanced. The jury noted with appreciation that sustainable design finally seems to mean something foundational, conceptual, and strategic rather than additive.
The overall quality of work was strong but stimulated the jury to ask critical questions aimed at the profession. How relevant are certifications? Shouldn’t data and metrics matter more? How far beyond the architectural object can design take sustainability? How can we be sure these projects continue to efficiently and elegantly serve their users in the future?
It is no exaggeration to say that sustainable management of energy, water, land, and raw materials is one the greatest quests of this modern era. The jury hopes the projects recognized here will forge a new baseline, and that future juries will be reviewing innovations that were catalyzed by the vision of architects, designers, engineers, and other AEC professionals working so diligently today.”