New York City based architecture firm Kiss + Cathcart’s has officially opened The Lee, a LEED Silver supportive housing tower in the Lower East Side. The opening of the building, attended by city officials, neighborhood representatives, and members of the design team, ushers in a new era of environmentally sustainable, socially responsible architecture in this city. The Lee features a green roof, recycled building materials, an energy-efficient heating and cooling system, and many more ecotastic elements. It is being hailed as the first building in the city to meet the USGBC’s green design and construction standards while providing shelter to New York’s under-served population.
The non-profit Common Ground Community will manage the tower, which houses 262 residents, including adults with special needs, low-income working adults and young adults aging out of foster care and at risk of homelessness. The Lee was developed under the city’s New Housing Marketplace Plan, designed to preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing by 2014. The 105,000 square-foot building boasts a community event space open to neighborhood residents, a large courtyard garden, computer lab, fitness room, on-site laundry and 24-hour security.
A green roof by Alive Structures crowns the structure, providing drought resistant low-lying vegetation that is tough and resilient. Gardens work in conjunction with the roof and permeable pavers to reduce stormwater runoff, with the inclusion of native plants limiting the need for irrigation to the initial establishment period. Rainwater is collected from the first story and bike storage roofs, and stored in barrels to water the gardens. Highly reflective roof surfaces reduce the absorption of heat from the sun, minimizing the heat island effect of the project. Interior materials have high recycled content, including ceramic tiles, recycled rubber floors, carpets and ceilings, linoleum flooring, and bamboo wainscoting.
The Lee’s most ground-breaking green features may be the energy and water efficiency implemented in the design and operating procedures. Kiss + Cathcart designed a tight building envelope supported by a high efficiency condensing boiler, efficient appliances, fluorescent lighting, and efficient bathroom fixtures, all coordinated through an innovative building management system. This system is tied to each tenant’s key card, allowing the owner to control each apartment’s heat, air conditioning, lighting and bathroom exhaust when the tenant is out, minimizing common residential energy waste that happens in the middle of the day.
To further minimize consumption, all corridors have full height windows that provide maximum natural lighting and views. The result is a building that saves 28 percent of benchmark energy costs, with a whopping 63 percent cost savings from an average housing development of the same size. Such numbers are rare for supportive or affordable housing, and puts most high-end condos to shame! While restrained in its aesthetic, The Lee provides radical energy efficiency features and proves that social housing and ecologically responsible design are not mutually exclusive goals, opening doors for new residents and new ideas alike.
Lead image via evgrieve.com
Building renderings © Kiss + Cathcart, Architects