by Debra Moffitt
Nestled into a hillside near Asheville, North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway Destination Center is projected to use 75 percent less energy than a comparable conventionally designed facility.
Trombe walls, a planted roof, bioswales, daylighting, a high-efficiency mechanical energy-recovery system, and other "green" features add up to make this National Park Service facility a contender for LEED Gold certification.
In many ways, the design of the Blue Ridge Parkway Center, by Lord, Aeck & Sargent, reflects an earthy awareness of the building's natural setting and relationship to the sun. But the project also involved state-of-the-art computational analysis to optimize the passive solar design.
"Energy efficiency was one of the cornerstones of sustainable design for this building when we began in 2004," says John Starr, a principal at the Atlanta-based firm.
The architects collaborated closely with the National Park Service to develop the 12,900-square-foot (1,200-square-meter) center. Wood siding and sloped roofs relate to the mountains and complement the Parkway's traditional style. Lord, Aeck & Sargent updated a southern Appalachian vernacular style with modern materials — glass, aluminum, and concrete.
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