Bringing Science and People Together, Green Square Complex Celebrates Opening

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Designed by Fentress Architects in association with O’Brien/Atkins Associates (Architect of Record), the project brings research to life in an interactive learning environment

Green Square Complex, Nature Research Center

The space physically expresses the mission of NC DENR to protect, conserve and teach about regional and global ecosystems, energy use, and sustainable strategies.

Science just got a bit more awesome. The newly-opened Green Square Complex project creates an experiential environment where the public can learn about environmental issues affecting everyday life through interacting with actual scientists and their ongoing research projects.

A two-block, multi-use sustainable development, the Green Square Complex is the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (NC DENR) downtown Raleigh complex, which brings together its staff in a new headquarters and expands the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences with the Nature Research Center. These components are joined by two skyway pedestrian bridges. The space physically expresses the mission of NC DENR to protect, conserve and teach about regional and global ecosystems, energy use, and sustainable strategies.

Design for People | A primary function of the NRC is to educate the public about environmental and scientific research, using state-of-the-art media, exhibits and laboratories to demonstrate the process of scientific discovery. The new facility features numerous hands-on exhibits, interactive media presentations, and research and teaching laboratories on earth sciences, genomics, paleontology and astronomy. A key feature is the Daily Planet, a four-story tall sphere projection environment that serves as a focal point for the visitor, anchoring the laboratories and gallery spaces located on all four levels of the facility.

Sustainable Features | The project isn’t only good for the mind, but for the earth as well. Designed to achieve LEED Gold certification, the project boasts a 10,000-square-foot green roof and maximizes daylighting by having far fewer interior walls and more windows than the typical office building. Water conservation is achieved through constructed cisterns that capture rainwater. Stormwater runoff, North Carolina's number one cause of water pollution, was eliminated. The project also utilized locally-quarried stone and locally-recycled steel. The DENR Office Building has high performance glazing, sunshades at the south facing curtainwall and upgraded perimeter glass stairs that encourage floor to floor communication without needing to use elevators. The building also has a raised floor system with a low velocity HVAC system.

Fast Facts | Green Square Complex

Completion:                       April 2012
Size:    DENR Office building:         146,250 square feet
Nature Research Center:     105,000 square feet (including 10,000 square feet of labs)
Parking Structure:                120,000 square feet
Cost:                          $126 million
Expected Annual Visitors to NRC:      900,000
Architects: Fentress Architects in association with O’Brien/Atkins Associates (Architect of Record)

Fentress Architects is a global design firm that passionately pursues the creation of sustainable and iconic architecture. Together with their clients, Fentress creates inspired design to improve the human environment. Founded by Curtis Fentress in 1980, the firm has designed US$26 billion of architectural projects worldwide, visited by over 300 million people each year. Fentress is a dynamic learning organization, driven to grow its ability to design, innovate and exceed client expectations. The firm has been honored with more than 385 distinctions for design excellence and innovation, and in 2010, Curtis Fentress was recognized by the American Institute of Architects with the most prestigious award for public architecture, the Thomas Jefferson Award. Fentress has studios in Denver, Colorado; Los Angeles, California; San Jose, California; Washington, D.C.; and London, U.K.

Please contact Angela Potrykus at 303.282.6192 or potrykus (at) fentressarchitects (dot) com for more information or images.

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Angela Potrykus
Fentress Architects
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