Chi Duong, for The Miller Hull Partnership, Nic Lehoux, Benjamin Benschneider
The Bullitt Center is a landmark prototype to inform future high-performance urban buildings, conceived of by Earth Day co-founder and environmentally-minded Bullitt Foundation president, Denis Hayes. The six-story, 52,000st building is the first leasable market rate commercial structure to target the rigorous requirements of the Living Building Challenge. Designed to achieve net-zero energy use and an aggressive target EUI of 16/kbtu/sf year with 100 percent on-site renewable energy from a rooftop photovoltaic array, the building has already achieved its entire targeted annual energy production in the first seven months it was open.
The Bullitt Center collects rainwater for potable and non-potable use, and all materials and systems were vetted against a 'red list' of prohibited toxins. Building occupants utilize the only known six story compositng toilet system in the world, a true feat of engineering and design. An adjacent street and neighborhood green space were transformed with native plant restoration, bio-swales and pervious pavement that help process and retain building stormwater runoff on site.
In doing more with less, the design team identified imaginative ways to express the building's core functions and to creatively celebrate regional context and address local climate conditions such as rain and grey winter days through materials and features. Heavy timber framing leverages a renewable local resource that multi-tasks for strength, beauty and carbon sequestration. Floor to ceiling windows provide natural light all year and fresh air. Automatically operable windows and exterior blinds provide an interesting, layered facade while adjusting throughout the day.
A notable presence on an outside wall is the 'irresistible stair' glass stairwell, which presents stunning views to lure people away from an energy drawing elevator, and also to encourage healthy habits. And most visibly, the overhanging rooftop photovoltaic array reinterprets a longstanding element of Northwest regional design vernacular.