Broadly understood, this project has developed around three primary objectives: first, the establishment of a benchmark for sustainable building design through the efficient use of natural energy sources. Second, the redefinition of the culture of the workplace through office environments that boost workers' health, productivity, and creativity. And third, the creation of an urban landmark that engages with the community.
A slender eighteen-story tower punctuates the skyline, and a public plaza and four-story annex connect to the scale and fabric of the city. The large, open plaza is a valuable asset in a district identified by the city as deficient in public space. The placement of the freestanding cafeteria pavilion and the public nature of the facilities housed within the tower's lower levels (including a conference centre, fitness centre and day-care centre for both local residents and employees) enliven the urban plaza with a steady stream of visitors.
The redefinition of circulation and vertical movement paths provides opportunities for chance encounters, a critical mass in circulation, and places for employees to gather across the typical confines of cubicles, departments or floors. The democratic layout locates open work areas at the building perimeter, and private offices and conference spaces at the central cores. Skip-stop elevators, sky gardens, tea salons, large open stairs, flexible floor plans and the elimination of corner offices endow the tower with a "sidewalk life" of cross-sectional interactions.
Many of the same design decisions that create high-quality workspace also maximize energy efficiency. The Federal Building is the first office tower in the United States to forgo air-conditioning in favor of natural ventilation. As a result of the tower's narrow profile and strategic integration of structural, mechanical and electrical systems, the building provides natural ventilation to 70 percent of the work area in lieu of air-conditioning, and affords natural light and operable windows to 90 percent of the workstations. A folded, perforated metal sunscreen shades the full-height glass window wall system, and a mutable skin of computer-controlled panels adjusts to daily and seasonal climate fluctuations.
With an energy performance that surpasses U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) criteria by more than 50 percent, the project sets new standards for applications of passive climate control, while physically democratizing the workplace and enhancing employees' health, comfort and sense of control over their environment.