“Sustainability at the very core of the design in structure, form, and system”

Regional Jury Report – North America

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    Net-zero greenhouse for Wellesley College, Boston, USA

    Responsive building envelope: material efficiency, embodied and operational.

Last updated: June 24, 2017 Vancouver, Canada

This project is an expansion of the botanical collection at Wellesley College. It is conceived as an educational link between the institution and the community. This project reimagines the greenhouse – typically an energy- and water-intensive program – as a net zero energy building. Particular care is taken to source all materials for the projects locally and with low resource intensity both for construction and operations. The lightweight pillow cladding weighs just three percent of what the same area would out of typical insulated glass. The three biomes – dry, temperate, and humid – help support each other through passive air and heat exchange. 

From Joseph Paxton onward, the greenhouse has been a compelling architectural type for everything from plants to exhibitions to radical housing. Greenhouses stand for challenges posed to the profession of architecture to reduce the means needed for enclosure. The jury greatly valued this project for addressing this history with a reduction not just in material for enclosure; but also in the resources needed for ongoing use. Sustainability is at the very core of the design in structure, form, and system. The project meets sustainability metrics as a matter of course and then goes much further to achieve a virtuosity of integration.