Madison architects advance to nationals in Green Building contest

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

From an article by Judy Lawrence in OnMilwaukee:

When the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a national non-profit organization dedicated to sustainable building design and construction, hosts the finals of its annual Natural Talent Design Competition at the Greenbuild Conference in Phoenix in November, future leaders in the green building movement from around the country will be on hand to present their innovative, integrated design ideas implementing learned principles of sustainability and social consciousness.

Among them will be Madison-based Flad Architects. Flad recently took first place at the local level of the Natural Design Competition, hosted in Milwaukee by the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance and Walnut Way Conservation Corp., a resident-led, community development organization serving the neighborhood bound by North Avenue, 12th Street, Fond du Lac Avenue, Walnut Street and 20th Street.

Flad's five team members -- Cody Axness, Leigh Streit, Chitani Ndisale, Jeremy Braunschweig and Jon Rynish -- set out to create design solutions for the North Avenue corridor within the Walnut Way neighborhood according to LEED Green Building Rating System guidelines.

Each team was asked to consider an integrated design approach and address pedestrian safety, stormwater management and sustainable building practices on a 3.8-acre site that would include the following:

•Rehab of a three-story warehouse (36,000 square feet)
•Grocery store / co-op space (20,000-30,000 square feet)
•Restaurant (5,000 square feet)
•Educational and community gather space (24,000 square feet)
•Mixed use / residential space (30,000-40,0000 square feet)
•Community garden / open space (15,000-25,000 square feet)
•Pocket park / neighborhood playground (25,000-35,000 square feet)

Flad's design conquered the development in many facets, but primarily focused on "passive comfort," says Axness, Flad's landscape designer, who has degrees in both environmental design and landscape architecture. Passive comfort, he says, means using strategies that don't require energy to create comfortable interior environments, such as constructing buildings in ways that optimize solar gains in winter and natural ventilation in summer.

Flad tackled the ongoing city-wide issue of stormwater runoff by including cycling bio-filtration swales, constructed wetlands, rain gardens and green roofs.

"Our design approaches the issue of excess runoff as an opportunity to lessen the need for potable city water for non-potable purposes like irrigation and flushing toilets," Axness says.