Green Architecture News: The Cloud Corridor of Futuristic Los Angeles

(Photo courtesy
(Photo courtesy

Like New York City and just about any other urban area with a dense population and heavy human footprint on the landscape, Los Angeles is often thought of as a massively developed area where nature has been virtually disregarded. One China-based architectural firm, MAD Architects, recently revealed a plan that could seamlessly incorporate vital green spaces with a series of new high-rise residential towers in the City of Lights.

(Photo courtesy
(Photo courtesy

The “Cloud Corridor” addresses sprawl in cities such as L.A., and presents a typological alternative: a “high-density vertical village.” By reconfiguring the streets vertically, interconnected residential towers redistribute a local urban fabric into a sky village with public spaces and gardens among the clouds.

(Photo courtesy
(Photo courtesy

Interconnected corridors facilitate circulation between the nine proposed towers, creating a natural community among residents. The towers, thus, will each function as a bustling village within the city. According to MAD, “the high-rise tower is a statement of power and social context. ‘Cloud Corridor’ reconsiders modernism’s residential tower typology and folds in the design philosophy that residential building should respond to nature and emphasize the environment”—as opposed to threatening it altogether.

(Photo courtesy
(Photo courtesy

An integrated green-roofed public transportation station is set below the corridor. The section’s rolling landscaped crown serves as a public park, tilting away from the grounds, generating a private-access entrance for the tower’s residents.

MAD Architects explain that they are “committed to developing futuristic, organic, technologically advanced designs” that reflect an Eastern appreciation for nature. This Cloud Corridor is certainly an example of such an attitude, while allowing residents to interact with nature with great ease and delight.

For more information, visit MAD Architects’ official website and

Sustainability News: Eco-Friendly Homes Get Elevated

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(Image courtesy Elevate Structure)

The tiny house craze continues across the country. Buyers are attracted to the lifestyle due to its cost efficiency, minimized upkeep and most especially, the smaller impact the home will have on the environment. One newly founded company though is taking the concept to a whole new level—quite literally. 

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(Image courtesy Elevate Structure)

A family-owned company based in Hawaii, Elevate Structure Inc. dreamt up a raised, über sustainable and functionally flexible construct, bringing it to the market earlier this year. Solar-powered with exterior green, living garden walls, the company says the constructs can be utilized as living quarters for an entire family, a commercial space, gym, office, storage space, short-term office space or even a drive-thru. Elevate contends that, should someone purchase a handful of units and strategically space them apart, they could even collectively be a most unique golf course. 

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(Image courtesy Elevate Structure)

The building’s rooftop is equipped with solar panels, powering the unit—though it could also function as a great sundeck. There’s also a rainwater collection device aiding to maintain the greenery, helping provide fresh oxygen for the atmosphere. 

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(Image courtesy Elevate Structure)

The elevated living space can range between 250 to 400 square feet while providing shade underneath, along with a nifty parking space. The 40-square-foot base of the building can hold up to 1,500 gallons of water, which means there are no water bills—or electric bills, for that matter—to worry about here.

Elevate Microhome1
(Image courtesy Elevate Structure)

Not quite a classic Tudor-style structure, maybe some of these tiny homes will rise on the beaches of the Hamptons come Summer 2016?

For more information, visit Elevate Structure’s official website and support them via their Kickstarter campaign here.


Green Architecture News: Getting “Low” in the LES

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(Image courtesy RAAD Studios)

Can the world’s first underground park become a reality in Manhattan’s Lower East Side? Considering the fact that the project’s organizers were recently able to attract 2,564 donors and raise $223,506, well over their $200,000 goal, in a single Kickstarter campaign, the answer seems to have become a bit more clear.

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(Image courtesy RAAD Studios)

The park is set in a subterranean Delancey Street station once known as the Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal that has gone untouched since 1948. Much of the hub’s original detail remains. The Lowline is projected to be a green, public gathering space the size of a football field made possible with the use of an innovative, as-yet developed sunlight-funneling system.

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(Image courtesy RAAD Studios)

James Ramsey, an architectural designer and former NASA satellite engineer, and Dan Barasch, an art-conscious social entrepreneur, are the aspirational duo behind the project. Ramsey’s RAAD Studios will be tapped to design the park should all of the required funding be accrued and approval be garnered from local community boards and the MTA which currently controls the trolley station.

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(Image courtesy RAAD Studios)

Ramsey and Barasch envision a quaint, botanical-garden-like atmosphere—that just happens to be underneath one of the most densely populated areas of New York City. They hope to collect sunlight from adjacent rooftops using efficient mirrors that will redirect the beams into the subterranean recess, helping to create an environment welcoming to an eclectic mix of plant species.

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(Image courtesy RAAD Studios)

The Kickstarter campaign funds will go first to the construction of Lowline Lab where the developers can design and test the new technology, which they hope to do this coming fall. They have also partnered with horticulture experts from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to help curate. Throughout the testing phases they will measure the effectiveness the proposed space will have on human happiness levels. 

For more information on this project visit RAAD Studios’ official website and the Kickstarter page where you can contribute as well.

Green Architecture: The Floating Cities of the Future

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The Seasteading Institute, an organization that imagines innovative societies of the future, recently launched an architectural design contest called “The Floating City Project.” They’re accepting entries of renderings depicting sustainable floating metropolises that could one day become a practical reality. The institute’s ultimate goal is to select a location in calm, territorial waters of a host nation for what may be the world’s maiden city at sea. First, they’ll review graphics of the participants’ initial propositions, which are due June 1st, and many of them might be inspired by some of these renderings already out there on the web. Here are four futuristic floating cities already dreamt up by some forward-thinking architects from around the world:

1) Marion Ottmann’s “Silt Lake City”

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A floating “hydropolis” with a focus on flood control in the Nile Valley, “Silt Lake City” would be located on Lake Nasser, Egypt—one of the largest manmade lakes in the world. The Marion Ottmanproject proposes dividing the water body into floating modular cities that could “ride” the tides during flood season. The cities, structured by a hydrological system, would converge toward the center of the lake and include agriculture, residences, businesses, and energy generators.

2) Vincent Callebaut Architectures’ “Lilypad”

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(Image courtesy

Created in the shape of a water lily, the “Lilypad” is a series of zero-emission floating communities that could house approximately 50,000 people on any water body. The self-sufficient, mixed-terrain landscape is powered with renewable energy and is envisioned as the future home for climate change refugees. Vincent Callebaut Architectures dreams these cities will rise by 2058.

3) The Shimizu Corporation’s “Green Float”

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(Image courtesy

Concerned with typhoon conditions, a Japanese firm called the Shimizu Corporation concocted this equatorial, bustling and botanical city that would mostly be powered by sunlight, and exist far from the threat of strong winds. The residential zone would house 30,000 residents, while the industry incubation office would be a work zone for 10,000 people. All waste would be recycled and utilized as additional energy sources, and there would be no burden on the environment whatsoever. The design team even included evacuation measures in their outline.  

4) Tangram’s “Harvest City”

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(Image courtesy

This collection of artificial islands, called Harvest City, is set in a futuristic Haiti and was designed to counter the effects of large earthquakes and hurricanes. Tangram’s city would consist of tethered floating modules and could be home to 30,000 residents. The overall design is divided into four zones or communities interconnected by a linear canal system with the center of the metropolis dedicated to urban functions like office space, education and light industry, and the outer areas comprising of agricultural homesteads.

For more information and renderings, visit here.


Sustainable Construction/LEED News: The Solar Tower of the Future


The Lower East Side will soon see white, and plenty of it. As part of the ongoing revitalization efforts in the area, Leven Betts, a husband/wife architecture team based in West Chelsea, have revealed plans to put up an albino “solar tower” on the corner of Chrystie and Broome Streets. The mixed-use, nine-story structure will have roughly 35,000 square feet of floor space, enough for a first-floor theater, rehearsal spaces, offices, and sixteen condos.

Tenants will be able to rely heavily on natural light and much of the building will be powered by solar energy. Because there aren’t many tall buildings within close proximity to the proposed tower, and because it will be situated across the street from Sara D. Roosevelt Park, there should be plenty of sun to help the structure earn a LEED Silver designation.

Though permits have yet to be filed with the city, and construction isn’t planned to begin until next year, there have already been a number of mixed reactions to the Broome Solar Tower. Though subtle—at times—the feelings on the building range from confused to spiteful to intrigued and complimentary, which is to be expected given its ambitious, all-white, boxy exterior. made sure to point out what the corner looks like now though:



LEED News: Long Island City Goes Green

8. LEED News- Long Island City Goes Green

The new twelve-story Maximilian building in Long Island City has attracted attention for its impressive amenities—the roof deck, concierge, lounge and fitness center—and because they have offered lease incentives including one month of free rent. The building also won LEED certification by incorporating an energy-efficient, environmentally sustainable design, with special care devoted to material releases. The LEED rating system, overseen by the US Green Building Council, recognizes buildings for eco-friendly construction and design. It’s good to see these conscientious efforts continuing, especially on the heels of other high-profile eco-friendly developments in Long Island City, one of NYC’s fastest-growing neighborhoods. Here’s a look at other LIC developments leading the way when it comes to going green.


(Photo: 4540 Center Boulevard)


This 345-unit luxury waterfront property won LEED designation last January. The building features green design elements including occupancy sensors in public spaces to control lighting, energy-efficient windows, and heat recovery technology incorporated into the HVAC unit—which, in addition to cutting emissions, will help residents reduce energy bills.


(Photo: DNAInfo)


JetBlue’s home in Queens Plaza earned Silver LEED certification after an extensive renovation. The open office design allows for an exorbitant amount of natural light, keeping power costs down. There are motion-sensitive lights; furniture and carpets are made from recycled materials; and all appliances are Energy Star-certified. There’s also a bike garage, enticing employees to ride their bikes to work instead of toiling in traffic.


(Photo: Wikipedia)


Queens’ most famous skyscraper also earned LEED certification recently, and it was quite a team effort. Seventy-five percent of the building’s employees use public transportation to get to work, and occupants were able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by ten percent over a six-year span by switching to green energy sources.


(Photo: The Pearson)


Finally, the just-launched Pearson rental project in Court Square is seeking LEED certification and comes with a whole new level of eco-amenity: three wind turbines perched on the building’s roof, allowing for a new brand of energy-efficient power.

Sustainability News: It’s Not Easy Being Green

(Image: Green Buildings Council)
(Image: Green Buildings Council)

With consumers increasingly interested in eco-friendly construction, but many developers frustrated by the high costs often associated with building to LEED-certified standards, some in the industry have turned to a new alternative known as the “Green Globes,” which promise to make it easier for developers to meet environmentally-friendly standards. The group behind the Green Globes recently released a study indicating that building to their standards is faster and more affordable than meeting LEED requirements.


However, a pair of environmental groups is doubtful. Sierra Club and Greenpeace recently joined together to form a new initiative called Greenwash Action, which aims to educate consumers on what environmental advocates call “greenwashing”—when companies try to make products sound eco-friendly rather than taking the time and effort to actually ensure that they are eco-friendly. Greenwash Action has protested the Green Globes, writing an open letter to its board of directors, claiming that the group—funded in part by the timber, plastics, and chemical industries—is not promoting standards that are actually beneficial to the environment.


So, how can you make sure your prospective new apartment actually is eco-friendly? Take the time to educate yourself and make sure you know the difference between saying an apartment is green and knowing what specifically makes it so.

The Infinite Game: Cradle to Cradle Design

Green architect William McDonough expounds on his approach to creating products, buildings and cities with a strategy of change and hope. In his TED talk, McDonough walks through his Cradle to Cradle design methodology, a strategy that does not consider an “end game,” only the “infinite game”; the infinite game in which society will thrive and propose from the use of continuously recyclable materials and design that functions with an inherent worldview.

Sustainability News: Rebuild by Design

Rendering Courtesy Rebuild by Design
Rendering courtesy Rebuild by Design

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, there was lots of talk about rebuilding New York smarter and more efficiently to better withstand future environmental and weather disasters. Hopefully, that will be more than just talk.

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development recently launched Rebuild by Design, a competition asking architecture and design firms to create post-Sandy, storm-resilient building solutions for waterfront development across the NYC area.

Rather than individual projects, architects were asked to dream up big ideas that could be implemented on a large scale throughout the region. More than 140 proposals came in from 15 different countries, and 10 were recently selected as finalists by a panel of experts. Among the best ideas chosen:

– A “Big U” series of connected blockades that would run all the way around the lower half of Manhattan, shielding the city from floods and storm surges while providing miles of new space on which to build parkland.

– A chain of barrier islands constructed across the New York and New Jersey coast, essentially man-made dunes that would protect our shores from storms and flooding.

– A series of flood barriers and raised streets throughout Red Hook that would shield that low-lying Brooklyn neighborhood, while also adding more space for development.

The Top 10 States for LEED

Top 10 States for LEED


Top 10 States for LEED
Image courtesy U.S. Green Buildings Council

The US Green Buildings Council recently released a list ranking the Top 10 States in the U.S. for LEED-certified construction. (LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is the world’s most widely used and recognized system for rating environmentally-friendly construction.) New York has welcomed many green properties in recent years, yet the rush of building to LEED standards here is only good enough to earn the state a #5 ranking. The #1 state on the list is Illinois, with the mid-Atlantic region of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. also placing high. New York tied with California for fifth-most LEED buildings per capita.

New York LEED Ranking
Image courtesy U.S. Green Buildings Council

The rankings are based on both commercial and institutional green building projects that were certified throughout 2013, and adjusted per capita based on U.S. Census data. The good news for everyone is that LEED-certified buildings – spaces that use less energy and more sustainable materials, while reducing carbon emissions and contributing to a healthier environment for residents – continued to rise throughout the nation.

LEED U.S. State Rankings
Rankings from U.S. Green Buildings Council