In a city known for green buildings, the new Berkeley YMCA-PG&E Teen Center, designed by Noll & Tam Architects, stands out from the crowd. The 13,500 square-foot adaptive re-use project, located in downtown Berkeley directly across the park from Berkeley High School, recently received LEED Platinum certification. The design team was made up of YMCA active teenagers, real estate developers, architects, program directors and other members of the community. This collaborative team fostered education, leadership, and sustainability in an efficient design process, which left the YMCA, PG&E, and the community of Berkeley with a building of which to be proud.
The building, originally built in 1964, was a former PG&E payment center, and in an effort to enrich the community PG&E donated the building to the YMCA. The renovation was conceived as a project for local teens who struggle with illiteracy and lack mentorship. Noll & Tam were brought on to help plan the adaptive-reuse and to accommodate the YMCA’s visions of education, advocacy, and community sustainability. The design team dynamically preserved the concrete colonnaded southern facade with a twist of an additional third story. The move was a respectful nod to the past and a glance into the future.
The sustainable features of this LEED Platinum design are grand to say the least. The building uses 40% less energy, 41% less water, had 75% less construction waste, offsets 10% total building energy through solar power, and costs 35% less than a building built to 2005 Title 24 standards. The building was designed to provide maximum access to natural daylight and views for over 75% of all occupants. The comfort in this building is extraordinary because of the design team’s attention to this detail. The Pankow Construction team also installed a hydronic heating system in the floor slab on the first and third floors to offset heating costs.
The San Francisco Chronicle urban design critic, John King, has called the renovation “the most dynamic new building in Berkeley.” Noll & Tam’s efforts were also identified by King as “a case study in how buildings can be reused in ways that not only draw on the past but also signal the future.” The creative and positive energies that continue to surround the project even after completion are wonderful examples of what collaborations for sustainability can bring. Thus, the Teen Center was awarded the 2012 Energy + Sustainability Citation by the AIA San Francisco.
photos via Noll & Tam