Page E1.3. 11 August 2010                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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One Bryant Park, New York

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The electrical demand is also reduced through the use of a glycol system that creates ice at night (when energy is cheaper), which is then used to help cool the building during the day. Forty-four tanks, each with a capacity of 625 cubic feet (17.7 cubic meters) of glycol, are frozen at night and then melted the next day to shave the building's electrical energy demand for air-conditioning by about five percent.

Water Management by the Numbers

Conserving water was a major consideration the tower's design. All graywater is treated and reused. "Only toilet water leaves the building," says Appel of Cook + Fox. "The rest is recycled."

Green roofs were kept to a minimum so that more rainwater could be captured; no runoff reaches the city's stormwater-drainage system. Cooling-coil condensate is also collected, along with groundwater (not necessarily a more sustainable water source, but reducing the use of potable water and its resource-intensive treatment) — a combined total of about 5,000 gallons (19,000 liters) per day.

Large holding tanks — totaling about 60,000 gallons (230,000 liters) — are located at four different floor heights to feed toilets and for other graywater uses, such as the cooling towers on the roof.

These strategies, coupled with water-conserving plumbing fixtures, result in a 45 percent reduction in the use of city water compared to a conventional building of this size, and a greatly reduced impact on the city's sewage system — about 95 percent less.

Air Distribution and Indoor Air Quality

For air distribution, the entire building — bank and other tenant spaces alike — uses floor plenums. This allows heated and cooled air to arrive just where it should, near the occupants, instead of being blown on them from registers in the ceiling — conditioning air above their heads. The raised-floor system is also popular in tenant spaces because it makes routing cables and computer infrastructure much easier.

The air inside the building is pulled in through intakes at least 100 feet (30 meters) above the street, cleaned through a filter that captures about 95 percent of particulates, and then cleaned again before it is distributed throughout the building.

Durst agreed to install a system that measures air quality throughout the building, which helped secure a New York State Green Building tax credit. The system monitors for carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and particulates. It has a central monitoring unit, connected by plastic tubing to measurement points throughout the building.

The central unit aspires samples from each location, which makes it easier to calibrate than a distributed system, in which samples might be taken by dozens of monitors throughout a building, each of which would need to be individually calibrated. Data about air quality and CO2 content will inform adjustments of the HVAC systems and ventilation levels.

What Would Walt Say?

If he were around today, would Walt Whitman sing the praises of the new Bank of America tower? He might find inspiration in its crystalline form rising high above Bryant Park's leaves of grass. However, the real achievement of this project is not necessarily in the things you can see, but in the carefully considered technology behind the scenes that runs this beautifully designed building with efficiency and sustainability worth singing about.   >>>

Michael J. Crosbie is editor-in-chief of Faith & Form, the chair of the University of Hartford's Department of Architecture, and a contributing editor to ArchitectureWeek.   More by Michael J. Crosbie

 

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The lower portion of the Bank of America Tower as viewed from the northwest corner of Bryant Park.
Photo: David Owen/ Artifice Images Extra Large Image

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The glazed exterior curtain wall of the Bank of America Tower is part of the building's rainwater collection system.
Photo: David Owen/ Artifice Images Extra Large Image

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The facade of Henry Miller's Theatre (1918) was preserved as part of the Bank of America Tower project. Most of the theater building was demolished and a new LEED-CI Gold-rated theater space, renamed the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, was integrated into the tower.
Photo: © Tishman Construction Company Extra Large Image

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Bank of America Tower curtain-wall section detail drawing.
Image: Cook + Fox Architects

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Bank of America Tower 50th-floor plan drawing.
Image: Cook + Fox Architects Extra Large Image

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Bank of America Tower south elevation drawing.
Image: Cook + Fox Architects Extra Large Image

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Diagram of building water supply and management systems.
Image: Cook + Fox Architects Extra Large Image

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A new subway entrance, with detailing matching that of the tower's ground floor, stands at the southeastern corner of the site.
Photo: David Owen/ Artifice Images Extra Large Image

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Just beyond the subway entrance, the winter garden extends to the edge of the lower overhang.
Photo: David Owen/ Artifice Images Extra Large Image

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The Bank of America Tower, with the Empire State Building and lower Manhattan beyond.
Photo: © Cook + Fox Architects Extra Large Image

 

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