We recently took a tour of the newly opened LEED Platinum pending Rocky Mountain Innosphere Building dubbed RMi2, home to a handful of cutting edge green companies. The project is a private/public collaboration developed to help incubate cutting edge companies in Fort Collins, Colorado. Preview Architecture’s design takes full advantage of the Colorado sun as the building is strewn with solar electric arrays, aggressive shading and daylighting and a highly efficient building shell and first-of-its-kind solar shaded parking. All of this was achieved under a tight budget by prioritizing performance and design over expensive materials and overly complex engineering. Click through the gallery for our exclusive photos of the new building.
The new headquarters is a place intended to create a solid footing for small companies to creatively develop their products and markets. Olexa Tkachenko, principle architect of the RMi2 building, gave me an extensive tour of the newly opened facility.
His focus on the intimate relationship between the inhabitants and the building itself is demonstrated by multiple spaces for impromptu meetings and work sessions, and layers of configurations making for an adaptable, creative environment. Interior vision glazing and a democratic floor plan add to the transparent nature of the creative process encouraged by the tenants and clients. Take a look at our photo gallery for even more images of the project.
Daylight is a major theme as it is aggressively controlled on the south side to reduce glare and heat buildup. The exterior overhangs come in two design flavors but both are made from simple off-the-shelf material to keep down cost. The interior light shelves, which bounce daylight deep into the space, are also made from low cost materials. Light sensors and an efficient HVAC system reduce energy loads although Olexa would have preferred more occupant involvement like light switches, and the windows do not open. A finished concrete floor on the main level also reduced materials and cost. Low VOC finishes and materials like Interface Floor tiles and green ceiling tiles contribute to the healthy work environment.
While cost savings was a major point of the project, building performance was carefully considered. The steel framing of the exterior walls are insulated with spray foam and then wrapped and taped in 2 inches of Thermax foam board for added insulation and to sharply reduce thermal bridging. Envelope commissioning validated a very low air infiltration rate for a commercial building.
While the building originally was designed to achieve LEED Gold Certification the budget allowed for a large solar array carport and rooftop which is projected to earn the project a LEED Platinum plaque and supply 15% of the buildings electrical needs. The carport is composed of next generation thin film solar panels by Abound Solar which are no more than an astounding half an inch thick. Plans are to incorporate an electric car charging system into the array which will be designed by a tenant and smart grid company Spirae. A separate bike storage facility is available for those who prefer pedal power.
The exterior is clad in Hardiboard cement panels which hold up well in the intense Colorado sun. The simple exterior has fewer issues with thermal details but the choice of materials and color is used to break the scale. The interior has a series of labs, office space, and a large conference room and breakout spaces. Two breakout rooms pull you in with floor to glass windows and a garage door and work bench to emulate that startup feeling of so many business that began in humble places. Clients of RMi2 include the hyperlocal green search company GenGreen, bamboo bicycle company Panda Bikes, and Van Dyne a manufacturer of energy efficient super turbochargers.
Photos © Andrew Michler