Page E1.1 . 21 July 2004                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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  • Green School Gathers for Takeoff

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    Green School Gathers for Takeoff

    by ArchitectureWeek

    When architects speak of "green" buildings these days, they seldom mean it literally. But for the elementary/ middle school in Lake Zurich, Illinois, Legat Architects, Inc. have justified both environmental and chromatic interpretations of the word. They designed the new school for sustainability and gave it a distinctive copper entrance that the students have dubbed "the green spaceship." Says their principal: "They keep waiting for it to blast off!"

    Pending blast-off, the school sits lightly on the land, a 31.5-acre (12.7-hectare) site that had mostly been vacant farmland. The building was designed to minimize environmental damage and to avoid disturbing two large adjacent wetland areas. During construction, bales of straw and silt fences prevented runoff onto the wetlands.

    One goal of the project was to bring the site back to its Midwestern prairie condition, partly for the purpose of water conservation. The "Xeriscape," or low-irrigation landscape, has been planted with 40 native species including tall grasses, rye, clover, and wildflowers.

    This low-maintenance vegetation requires little extra water and blends well with the existing wetlands. Also, grass that grows through porous pavement absorbs water, prevents run-off, and gives the site a cohesive look.

    Saving by Sharing

    The 218,000-square-foot (20,000-square-meter) building design also demonstrates the latest sustainable design trends to save operational costs. These include shared facilities, efficient orientation and glazings, a heat recovery system that adapts to the season, and low-toxicity construction materials.   >>>

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    ArchWeek Image

    Lake Zurich Elementary/Middle School by Legat Architects, Inc. with a "green spaceship" at its entrance.
    Photo: Legat Architects, Inc.

    ArchWeek Image

    The green element continues on the interior, containing the shared library.
    Photo: Legat Architects, Inc.


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