In downtown Oklahoma City, the region's most needy population
occupies one of the newest and best buildings using sustainable
design and building practices.
WestTown, designed by TAP Architecture, not only incorporates
decomposed native Oklahoma granite instead of concrete paving for
its parking lot and landscaping, it also uses locally created
recycled glass countertops in places like the bathroom. The day
center for the homeless and indigent has integral colored concrete
floors versus floor covering, and its sign is made from natural
oxidized steel. The $4 million, 32,762-square-foot WestTown Resource
Center's architectural design incorporated durable materials,
sustainable landscaping and mechanical systems to minimize expense
Anthony McDermid, principal of TAP Architecture, said the
Homeless Alliance put an emphasis on having a green building - a
trend TAP is seeing more often.
"Local clients are increasingly aware of the difference between
the first cost of buying buildings and the ongoing cost of owning
buildings," McDermid said. "Traditionally our local culture has
viewed first costs as paramount and the result is a building stock
characterized by deferred maintenance and high operating costs.
Owners need options and the green movement is causing some scrutiny
of our approach toward the built environment. Do our actions cause
betterment or detriment?"
Yet sustainable design is still not wildly popular.
DesignIntelligence, publisher of market intelligence for the
architecture and design industry, said in its 2011 Green &
Sustainable Design Survey that despite all the talk about
sustainability, "sustainable design practices are not yet in the
mainstream of architecture and design." However,
DesignIntelligence's Trends Forecast & Foresight Scenarios listed
top five trends, including sustainable design, BIM adoption, life-
cycle design, productivity increases and intelligent buildings.
In Oklahoma City, McDermid said he sees certain trends in local
development, the top three being in energy consumption, maintenance
and life span.
"There are a multitude of design criteria that are considered in
a green building project, but I would say building systems and
materials are where we see the major trends," he said. "In a
nutshell, I predict we will see smaller buildings of higher quality
in smarter locations."
In Tulsa, the major trends in green design are no different than
trends throughout the region and nation.
"The main difference is that Tulsa building owners have been
slower embracing green design," said Janet Selser, president of
Selser Schaefer Architects. "The city of Tulsa does not have the
financial incentives and/or requirements for building green that
many other cities such as Austin, Texas, have implemented. It has
taken a few building owners/developers in Tulsa who were willing to
spend a 'little' extra money to implement green technologies in an
effort which helped 'prove' the advantages of sustainable design."
Selser said clients are definitely talking more about sustainable
design than they were 10 years ago due mainly to the advantages that
eliminate the cost effect of building green. Those advantages
include the increased availability of green products being produced,
more contractors with experience in green initiatives and the
tracking tools that assist architects in explaining the process and
options for greening a project.
"We try to incorporate as many sustainable elements as possible
into all of our projects," Selser said. "(A project at) 200 E. Brady
is a good example of green design that does not necessarily differ
from traditional construction in terms of cost. …