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kitchens, and dining spaces. The volume of the conference center’s lobby space is animated by a folded plate ceiling that acts as a reflector for dispersing natural light throughout the large space. The previously described data center is located along the west side at the groundfloor level. The project’s second phase (which included construction of the eight-story tower and a parking garage, along with the reconstruction of the company’s former office space) completed the consolidation of office and common facilities for Sysco. The architects conceptualized the two office towers as simple glass boxes floating above two-story, stone-clad bases. The building bases reference the height of the glass lobby entrance to the conference center. The auditorium’s similar stone-clad mass anchors the south end of the complex. This relationship provides a unified visual line connecting all components of the project. The landscape design reinforces this unity by creating a linear automobile court for drop-off and visitor parking integrated with continuous allées of trees and planting. The contrast of this more urban streetscape with the surrounding suburban landscape is striking and gives Sysco a unique identity. In concert with Sysco’s interest in providing a high-quality workplace for its employees, the design team presented a LEED strategy for accomplishing that goal as well as providing potential energy savings for the company. Based on energy modeling, the building is predicted to be 25 percent more efficient than a building built to the current City of Houston energy code. The long east-west axis provides proper orientation for the two towers. On the north side, floor-to-ceiling glass is shaded from glancing east and west light by vertical fins. Similar glass on the south elevation is shaded with horizontal projections. East and west reflective glass is reduced in size by a spandrel wainscot. A large, louvered porch protects the east-facing glass of the conference center’s two-story lobby. Daylight is utilized for interior lighting throughout the spaces with sensing light fixtures providing artificial light when required. Unusual for commercial office buildings, a raised-floor system is installed throughout to allow for an under-floor, low-volume air delivery system. This provides localized control of air distribution as well as flexibility for future office planning. The use of low-VOC paint, sealants, adhesives, and carpet protects occupants from harmful emissions. Closed-door offices are located at the east and west ends of the buildings, allowing the floor-to-ceiling north and south glass to provide ample light and outdoor views. Kirksey inventively designed the buildings’ interior office spaces to meet Sysco’s value goals. New office standards are established with a focus on flexibility and lightness. Major public and private spaces are enriched with color and scale in the use of stone, glass, and veneered wood planes that often fold from the vertical wall to the horizontal ceiling plane. Artificial lighting is integrated into these materials in varied applications. With a focus on workplace, sustainable design, simplicity, and value, the project team has designed a building complex that reflects Sysco’s corporate values for an enhanced commercial headquarters building. With attention to both generic office space and specific use space, the architects have created an enriched work environment. The project is an important example of environmentally responsive and market-savvy design decisions to which all commercial building design should aspire. Geoffrey Brune, AIA, is principal of GBA Architecture and teaches at the University of Houston.

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Texas Architect Nov/Dec 2008: High-Preformance Design  

Texas Architect is the official publication of the Texas Society of Architects, each edition features recently completed projects and other...

Texas Architect Nov/Dec 2008: High-Preformance Design  

Texas Architect is the official publication of the Texas Society of Architects, each edition features recently completed projects and other...