Pelli's Platinum Visionaire
by Michael Cockram
At first glance, the glossy new 35-story condominium tower slicing into the lower Manhattan skyline doesn't stand out as a beacon of sustainable design. Its sleek form — an extruded curving wedge accented with red terra cotta bands — looks more Ferrari than Prius. And the structure's granite base and travertine lobby walls are elements not usually associated with green building.
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But with a LEED Platinum rating under its belt, The Visionaire by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects lays claim to being perhaps the greenest high-rise residential building in the United States. So how did the architects design a low-impact high-end building?
These seemingly competing demands were partially resolved in the skin. The high-performance curtain-wall system uses insulated glazing with low-E reflective coatings and a well-insulated wall system with an R-value of 20.
"The building appears to be very glassy and potentially energy-inefficient," agrees Craig Copeland, senior associate at Pelli Clarke Pelli and design team leader for the Visionaire. "But only 48 percent of the skin is vision glass, and much of the facade was carefully tuned with thermally efficient spandrel panels."
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