The new LEED Platinum headquarters for this utility reimagines an entirely paved, urban location and an operational water and sewage treatment facility, while returning the landscape to a functioning ecosystem. To protect the area, the site had to be raised to one foot above the 500-year flood plain.
The building’s massing is configured to account for conditions that required structurally isolating the building from the existing pumping station. A pair of trusses, one of which is 200-feet-long and five stories tall, carry the weight of the new building over the station. Portions of the trusses are left exposed, adding sculptural accents to office and support spaces.
The project also exemplifies technological innovation through its use of a groundbreaking wastewater thermal recovery system—used here for the first time in a U.S. office building—to capture heat from the flowing wastewater in winter, while using it as a heat sink in summer. The device transfers heat between the wastewater piping and a separate clean-water loop that runs to a heat-recovery chiller in the building. The system reduces energy use for heating and cooling by 48%.
The building ’s sinuous form and layered skin are carefully shaped by the opportunities and constraints of the site and are also informed by computational analytics. The building ’s north side features punched windows in green cladding recalling the historic use of copper in water transmission. The south façade glass curtainwall accommodates views and daylighting. Stepped in areas create shading and a second layer of tinted glass in specific areas reduce heat loads and glare as determined by computational modeling. Only 40% of the exterior is glazed.
The building has become an urban icon on Washington’s Anacostia Riverfront, embracing environmental stewardship and the incorporation of sustainable building measures as essential design practice.