By Holly Burns
The Empire State Building announced an eco rehab facelift, a symbolic initiative in the “greening” of NYC spurring a greater conversation around architectural strategic design. Although it is not the first building to receive attention for its sustainable renovation efforts, it is the most noteworthy because of its public esteem and iconic stature. The $20 million investment to green the Art Deco Empire State Building (in addition to renovation efforts designed to attract new tenants that will cost $500 million) shows that there is a new movement towards thinking sustainably, especially with regard to existing structures. This urban redevelopment will introduce new challenges, not only in executing the extensive renovations required, but also in maintaining rigorous design standards and holistically enhancing the building’s architecture. In addition to structural challenges, eco-retrofitting brings opportunities to reduce energy consumption and also affords economic opportunities with green investment on the rise. The renovations will reinforce the integration of design quality and sustainability.
Jan Klerks, Research & Communications Manager for the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat in the US and ex leader of the Dutch Council on Tall Buildings, says that architects have a responsibility to connect sustainability and design; to take a holistic approach on multiple levels, “I don’t think it’s a matter of design over sustainability or vice versa; it is up to the architect to translate this agenda into proper design.