“We no longer want any of our students to think that sustainability is a topic that they can choose to study but rather that it is the very foundation upon which architecture must build.” These were the words of Michelle Addington, the newly appointed dean of the University of Texas School of Architecture, at the Austin Green Awards Celebration held late last month.
The Austin Green Awards is Austin’s first program to specifically highlight outstanding accomplishments in sustainable design and innovation, recognizing forward-facing design strategies that respond to rapidly evolving environmental, social, and health imperatives.
Four projects won awards this year, including:
Michael + Susan Dell Foundation Learning Center at Lakeline Station Apartments – Owned by the nonprofit affordable housing provider Foundation Communities, the learning center is the first fully inhabited net-zero commercial building in Austin. It hosts afterschool and summer learning programs for children, as well as financial coaching services, exercise and nutrition classes, and assistance with health insurance enrollment.
Milagro Springs Retreat – A private residence in Wimberley, the retreat features off-grid water and energy systems and a beautiful, biophilic design
Bluebonnet Studios – Also owned by the nonprofit affordable housing provider Foundation Communities, this multifamily apartment complex incorporates affordability with environmentalism and onsite social services
Electric Drive – A project from Austin Energy, Electric Drive is the new name for West 2nd Street, featuring a solar charging kiosk and electric vehicle charging stations.
The big winner of the evening was Foundation Communities, which took home two awards. About the learning center project, one of the Austin Green Award judges said, “It’s incredibly admirable for the not-for-profit Foundation Communities to set that high benchmark, including pursuing the Living Building Challenge, with such limited resources. If a small fraction of projects that architects take on would be that ambitious, we would be doing well…”