The U.S. Green Building Council recently announced that it has selected HOK as an official design partner for Project Haiti – a building designed to LEED Platinum principles that will replace a Port-au-Prince orphanage and children’s center devastated by the 2010 earthquake. The new structure will provide a safe, healthy home for the kids of the Fondation Enfant Jesus orphanage and children’s center. The design, which was just revealed yesterday, will take full advantage of passive heating and cooling, require minimal maintenance, and be independent from the city’s unreliable power grid.
“The challenge — to design, build and operate a highly sustainable project that will help these Haitian children — is an amazing opportunity,” said HOK Director of Sustainable Design Mary Ann Lazarus, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C. “We are creating a replicable, living textbook of sustainable design tailored to the Haitian culture that we hope will influence the future of architecture in the region.”
The three-story, L-shaped structure will be organized around a central courtyard that will be the heart of the orphanage and its activities. The building will be flanked by kitchen, dining and training spaces, and the design will respond to the dense urban condition and prevailing easterly trade winds by organizing all the spaces around a courtyard facing east. As with the vernacular “Gingerbread” style of Haiti, the building rises around this courtyard and features deep outdoor balconies.
HOK’s architects are striving for a net zero water and waste building, and for the center to be a positive energy source. To guarantee a safe water supply, HOK’s team designed a closed-loop system that collects, treats and stores water on the site. A bio-digester will treat the waste and provide gas for cooking. Any excess energy generated by the center will be used to power street lights and public charging stations on the street.
The building will also integrate biomimicry to create a locally attuned and responsive building solution. The building references the local Kapok tree, both in the branching support system of the balcony system and the low emissivity, heat-shedding characteristics of its second skin. And to promote Haiti’s rich artistic heritage, local materials and artwork will be a focal point of the design aesthetic.
“Creating a healthy, safe environment for children is the most important work we can do in the green building industry, and Project Haiti Orphanage and Children’s Center is about helping the children of Haiti who are facing ongoing devastation following the earthquake that took place two years ago,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of the U.S. Green Building Council.