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Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.

Detroit Sustainability Center in Michigan by Inform Studio

November 12th, 2011 by Sanjay Gangal

Article source: Inform Studio

The Green Door Initiative, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice and the Southeast Michigan Sustainable Business Forum have partnered to develop the Detroit Sustainability Center (DSC), which envisions the resurgence of Detroit as a vibrant urban hub where all can thrive in environmental, economic and social health. The heart, pride and creativity of Detroit are the roots and catalyst for local and regional change.

Exterior Proposed

  • Architects: Inform Studio
  • Project: Detroit Sustainability Center
  • Location: Detroit, Michigan
  • Total Project: 14,747 sq. ft.
  • Construction Cost: $7.9 million
  • Client: The Green Door Initiative, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Southeast Michigan Sustainable Business Forum
  • Architect Team: Kenneth Van Tine, Gina Van Tine, Michael Guthrie, Cory Lavigne, Jordan Whitted, Anna Haezebrouck, Jeremy Ervin, Robert Miller
  • Landscape Architect: Conservation Design Forum
  • Mechanical/Electrical/Structural: URS Corporation

Existing Context Information

Working with nonprofit business and governmental agencies, the Center will serve as an engine for ecological, economic and social change toward a sustainable society. The Detroit Sustainability Center will operate as a living system to explore the ways in which people design and construct sustainable buildings which in turn contribute to the general health and well being of its inhabitants and neighbors.

Main Floor Plan

The DSC will accelerate the principles of green design, becoming a sustainable catalyst to the region, expanding the image of Detroit as a viable sustainable green economy and providing a new model for urban redevelopment. By empowering the local communities and encouraging people to take leadership in transforming their own environments into healthy places to live, work and play, the DSC aims to enhance the quality of life for residents and workers in the City of Detroit. It will serve as a community and professional resource hub, highlighting and expanding on the knowledge base and contemporary practices of sustainable design and lifestyle in the city of Detroit and beyond; fostering this new economy through the incorporation of civic engagements, job training, green business incubation, green construction, and policy innovation.

Upper Floor Plan

The mission of the Detroit Sustainability Center is to achieve a just and vibrant green economy by working with nonprofit, business, and governmental entities to:
1. Coordinate ongoing sustainability efforts,
2. Build community capacity to expand the impact of these efforts,
3. Cultivate new enterprise to fill gaps in service and education so that all Detroit’s residents will be able to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the new green economy

Material Study/Proposed Exterior Elevations

The DSC will act as a laboratory for research on sustainable practices, technologies and initiatives. The center will provide continual systematic analysis of energy consumption, water use, natural ventilation, daylighting, temperature and waste recycling. Direct user monitoring of the engineering systems will promote education of the sustainable technologies in use. The research component of the center will create opportunities for information sharing and potential partnerships between DSC users and other sustainable leaders on a local, national and international stage. The Detroit Sustainability Center will be the first of its kind in the city of Detroit. It will convey practical knowledge and a hands-on education to the local and metropolitan community; promoting a leadership role in the development and integration of sustainable building technologies and strategies.

Interior Proposed

This adaptive reuse project will implement passive and active strategies relevant to the Detroit region; including efficient façade design, daylight harvesting, natural ventilation, thermal mass optimization and night purging, geothermal heating and cooling, solar water heating and grey water reuse. The DSC site design will reinforce the vision, providing many integrated green infrastructure strategies, supporting the basis of the Green Jobs Training program and educational center activities within. The project creates a series of restorative site interventions through sustainable urbanism and green infrastructure practices; extending into the community as part of a green neighborhood revitalization effort. Green roofs, water cleansing biotopes, rain gardens and a public plaza provide opportunities for education and collaboration within a healthy urban setting, instituting a hands-on approach to the construction, maintenance and stewardship of green systems and materials.

Interior Proposed

inFORM studio is a Woman-owned, WBE certified, design based practice with three offices in Detroit, Michigan, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and New York City. Each office is fully integrated and collaborates with teams set for each project that span all three locations.

Formed in March 2000, Van Tine|Guthrie Studio of architecture quickly earned a reputation for the progressive work of the three principals, Michael L. Guthrie, Kenneth R. Van Tine, and Gina Van Tine. The firm has received continued peer recognition and community attention for design excellence in acquiring numerous state and local AIA Honor Awards, authoring the winning entry for the Bagley Street Pedestrian Bridge as part of the $120 million Michigan Department of Transportation Ambassador Gateway Project and in June of 2003, was selected as one of eight international finalists out of 1,557 entries to present at the Grand Egyptian Museum Competition Symposium in Cairo, Egypt. In 2004 the firm was invited to participate, as one of 30 firms from around the world, in the prestigious Canadian Museum of Human Rights competition and recently received an honorable mention in the world-wide competition for the Museum of Contemporary Art and Planning Exhibition in Shenzhen, China. In late 2010, a 2-phase international competition involving 47 firms from around the world was held to select an iconic pedestrian bridge design for the city of Providence, Rhode Island. The proposal submitted by inFORM studio was selected as the winning entry and is slated for completion in 2013.

Proposed Site Plan

In an effort to pursue a higher level of research and immerse our practice in an environmentally sustainable approach to every project, the firm formally changed the name to inFORM studio in early 2007. In March 2011, inFORM studio was selected as AIA Michigan Firm of the Year.

Engineering Analysis

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Category: Sustainable Design

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