Better Living Through Algae! Metropolis Announces Winner of Next Generation Design Competition

The mission, if you chose to accept it: propose ideas for retrofitting a circa-1965 Los Angeles federal building to attain net zero energy status. Hundreds of young designers devised design fixes to transform the eight-story office building—in a memorable, beautiful, and original way—for the eighth annual Metropolis Next Generation Design Competition, held in partnership with the U.S. General Services Administration. And the winner is…a 15-member team of HOK / Vanderweil architects and engineers that impressed judges including Michelle Addington, Brian Collins, and Lawrence Scarpa with an entry that addressed every aspect of the building’s design and systems.

Led by HOK’s Sean Quinn, the Washington, D.C.-based team proposed a new facade featuring 35,000 square feet of photovoltaic film, a 25,000-square-foot microalgae bioreactor system that would generate approximately 9 percent of the renovated building’s energy needs, and 30,000 square feet of rooftop solar collectors circulating water through floors for interior climate control. Meanwhile, changes such as migrating the building to a cloud computing system and using equipment powered by the L.A. sunshine would save an impressive 80 percent in office equipment energy use. The interdisciplinary team will be honored on Monday at the annual Metropolis conference at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York. As for the $10,000 prize, they’ve pledged to reinvest it to further research the development of the proposed renewable energy technology.