Finding a natural solution
As the 93 Nevins project works its way through the summer, the building is starting to emerge through its cocoon. Having finished the restoration of the original two-story building, we were able to take off the outside support structure that had stabilized it during the construction, which revealed the old parapet and brickwork from the street.
The rewards of this work extend far beyond the building’s enhanced street view. A ninth grade science class from the School of the Future, a Manhattan public high school, invited us to attend an evening celebration of student work in the field of environmental science. The students presented projects – entries in an exciting contest in green building design run by their teachers Alison Godshall and Allison Murray. The assignment had been based upon the footprint of the Nevins project site and project specifications. The students’ challenge was to design and spec a green and sustainable project within our footprint.
In April, the project’s architect and I, with support from Green Depot, visited and presented to the four environmental science classes at the School of the Future, comprised of nearly 120 students. We described the 93 Nevins project in detail to the students, and after we left they were given the assignment to work on in small groups. The students’ final presentations detailed twelve green features of their project, and included renderings and specs that defined the sustainability of the program for their project.
Allison Godshall and The School of the Future kick-started their environmental sustainability initiative in 1999, with the installation of roof gardens at the school. That initial project has grown to include an extensive green roof, greenhouse, wireless weather station and live still webcam. The green roof at the School of the Future uses rainwater barrels similar to those we will be using at Nevins Street, which capture water for irrigating the various forms of greenery. It was the first public school green roof in the NYC system, and all of the work was part of an ongoing and developing science curriculum. The roof has developed into a living breathing, filtering, rainwater-capturing classroom.
Our participation in this school’s innovative curriculum has now added us the 93 Nevins team to their roster of supporters, which includes the American Institute of Architects (AIA), NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Earth Pledge, CUNY’s GreenProofing.org, GreenApple Corps, Trees New York, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Fujifilm, HurricaneTrack.com, and the Hall Farm Center.
So what did the budding architects come up with? Their projects had various schemes, some of the most interesting of which were: a foster home, sound recording studio, and hotels & residences.
In considering their final work, we were reminded of the reason that education is a central part of our mission, in building sustainable buildings. Our goal is to see this momentum build, fostering opportunities for the next generation to work towards a more sustainable life on our fragile planet. It’s extremely exciting and very humbling for us to work with the young professionals that will bridge the way to the future.