At first glance, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Architects’ design for the new Public Safety Answering Center in the Bronx may seem like just another grey office building. However, hiding inside the recycled aluminum-clad building is a gorgeous, ultra high-tech living wall that cleans the air as it enriches the building’s microbiome.

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PSAC II, Location: Bronx NY, Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

The 450,000-square-foot building, which will take 911 calls on a 24-hour basis, was designed to be used as a secure base in case of any type of emergency. For security purposes, the blast-resistant structure has a metallic serrated exterior made out of recycled aluminum and sits inside a protective wrap-around berm of wild grasses.

Related:CASE and SOM’s AMPS Living Green Wall Promises to Reduce Air Pollution and Energy Costs

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On the interior, the idea behind the green wall installation was to provide a healthy atmosphere for employees on a regular basis, but especially in the case of an emergency situation. In fact, the high-tech green wall is comprised of a soil-less Active Modular Phytoremediation Wall System (AMPS) that serves as an integral part of the building’s overall air quality engineering plan. The plants, which are grown hydroponically, not only create a soothing interior space, but they actively filter the air and enrich the building’s microbiome in the process.

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“Conventional HVAC systems are almost like antibiotics. They take the air streams and filter them, and they can take the good out with the bad,” says Anna Dyson, director of RPI’s Center for Architecture, Science, and Ecology (CASE).

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“We’re essentially looking to transition building systems from antibiotic systems to probiotics systems, if you will. It’s a very different approach.”

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PSAC II, Location: Bronx NY, Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Apart from the impressive green wall, the call center has a number of additional sustainable strategies such as recycled building materials and reduced water use systems that were installed to meet LEED Silver certification criteria.

+ Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

+ CASE

Via Fast Co Exist

Photos via SOM Architects, Albert Vecerka | Est0, and CASE

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PSAC II: Bronx NY, Architect: SOM Architects

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PSAC II: Bronx NY, Architect: SOM Architects
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PSAC II: Bronx NY, Architect: SOM Architects