The epicenter of the recent Baltimore riots could soon turn into an “epicenter of opportunity” thanks to a stunning new prefab project that recently debuted at Greenbuild. Building Design+Construction Magazine (BDC) teamed up with Zigner/Snead Architects, the U.S. Green Building Council, and Modular Genius to design and build BDC’s annual Greenbuild GreenZone demonstration building: the Green Workforce Development Center, a modular structure for the local nonprofit Parks & People in the Mondawmin community. Designed to LEED standards, the 588-square-foot prefab facility will harvest rainwater, maximize daylighting, and teach the public about energy-saving design.
Every year as part of Greenbuild’s GreenZone, BDC enlists the help of generous sponsors to construct an environmentally friendly building for a local non-profit. This year saw the selection of the Parks & People Foundation, a non-profit with over 30 years of experience in revitalizing Baltimore with green space. The non-profit recently moved into a newly restored, LEED Platinum-seeking 9-acre campus in Druid Hill Park. The prefab Green Workforce Development Center will join the campus next spring and increase the percentage of the urban campus dedicated to public use.
“The Parks & People Green Workforce Development Center will showcase modular construction as a sustainable building strategy, alongside the adaptive reuse of existing buildings and energy-efficient new construction utilizing a high-performance exterior envelope,” said Keith Peiffer, RA, LEED AO BD+C, Associate at Ziger/Snead Architects to BDC. Designed as a contemporary counterpoint to the site’s restored 19th-century stone buildings, the new mono-pitched modular structure comprises a large multipurpose meeting room, locker space, kitchenette, washroom, restroom, and large northeast-facing outdoor deck that sits flush with the ground.
Clad in cedar shakes and highly reflective corrugated metal panels that extend up to the roof, the building was constructed from structural insulated panels sheathed in a rainscreen building envelope. Clerestory triple-glazed windows and full-height glazed doors let in natural light and ventilation, and are strategically placed to permit views to penetrate through the house to the outdoors, thus maintaining a connection with nature. Operable Mechosystems shades will automatically adjust in response to cloud cover readings by weather data radiometers installed on the roof.
Energy use is kept to a minimum thanks to low-flow fixtures, LED lighting, and energy-efficient appliances such as the highly efficient variable refrigerant (VRF) HVAC system that maintains comfortable indoor temperatures year-round. A rainwater collection system will be used to irrigate nearby modular micro-farms and for educational purposes. The Green Workforce Development Center, which is expected to open spring 2016, will serve as a flexible educational and workshop space for the nonprofit’s most active programs, including BRANCHES, a green job training initiative for Baltimore’s underserved youth.
“Our contract services, our youth team, and the general public can come in and use the space as a meeting area and a space that really reaches out to the community,” said Valerie Rupp, Director of Green Communities at the Parks & People Foundation to BDC Magazine. “To really create something that’s vibrant and sustainable, it needs to grow out of community desire. Getting people outside and connected is really what our strategy is to bring about redevelopment of the city.”
Images © Lucy Wang; diagrams and drawings via Zigner/Snead Architects