AIA Top 10


Case studies are currently organized by project type. In the future, you will be able to search the case studies database by a variety of criteria, including by cross-referenced building materials listed on Green Building Pages and by key sustainable design and construction features.


 AIA Top 10 2009

Charles Hostler Student Center


Beirut, Lebanon


Contact: VJAA
(612) 872-6370

The Charles Hostler Student Center on the campus of the American University of Beriut provides a model for environmentally responsive design that meets the social needs of the campus and the larger region. The facility houses competitive and recreational athletic facilities as well as an auditorium with associated meeting rooms, cafeteria with study space, and underground parking for 200 cars.

The program is organized as a cluster of interior and exterior spaces rather than a single building, allowing the building forms themselves to redistribute air, activity, and shade. The east-west orientation of the building forms helps to shade exterior courtyards, reducing the amount of southern exposure. The orientation also directs nighttime breezes and daytime sea breezes to cool outdoor spaces. This is in line with traditional Mediterranean cities, where the use of urban architectural space is closely calibrated witht he natural environment.


Seaside, CA

EHDD Architecture


Contact: Douglas Atkins
(831) 394-3468

The shared vision for the new Chartwell School campus was to create an exceptional, high-performance learning environment for children with learning differences, including dyslexia. Chartwell serves students grades 1–8 in the greater Monterey Bay area. Five key goals were established to guide the project, and here are some of the results on the Chartwell campus. Tall, north-facing windows and clerestories provide excellent daylighting, support the net-zero electrical goal and improving student outcomes. Sloping shed roofs for good photovoltaic orientation and an extensive measurement and verification system support optimal function of the building and provide learning opportunities for the students. Radiant heat provides a quiet learning environment and reduces the size of mechanical equipment and mechanical rooms. Framing the structure at two feet on center reduces the amount of material used on the project and also saves on overall construction costs.

Chartwell is a LEED Platinum campus.

Gish Family Apartments

San Jose, CA

OJK Architecture and Planning

Contact: Jeff Oberdorfer
(408) 291-8650

Gish Apartments in downtown San Jose is a 35-unit transit-oriented family apartment complex that provides quality affordable housing for households earning 35%–50% of the area median income. The complex is a model for the State of California's Multifamily Housing Program for mainstreaming special needs populations. Residents have access to a computer center and are provided with services tailored to support low-income families, such as financial literacy training, computer training, and after-school programs.

Gish Apartments is a groundbreaking development both for its architectural design and in its use of renewable energy technologies and other green building features. Gish is the only affordable housing development in the U.S. to receive both LEED for Homes and LEED for New Construction Gold certification.

Great River Energy Headquarters

Maple Grove, MN


Contact: David Dimond
(612) 851-5000

Great River Energy (GRE) is a not-for-profit, member-owned electric utility cooperative. As Minnesota's second-largest electric wholesale supplier, GRE generates and transmits electricity to 28 distribution cooperatives serving more than 620,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers.GRE's new office environment was designed to showcase workplace productivity, energy-efficient technologies, and a collaborative culture within the most electric-energy-efficient building in the state. GRE strives to demonstrate energy-efficient technologies that can be transferred to their customers and reduce future demand for fossil fuel-based electric generation.

The combination of energy-efficiency with on-site renewable energy and modest amounts of grid-supplied green power reduces GRE's fossil fuel use by 75% and cuts CO2 emissions by 60%, meeting the 2015 goals of the 2030 Challenge. The project achieved these goals while providing abundant daylight and views to the exterior, exceptional indoor air quality, and a quality work environment within a reasonable budget—demonstrating that green design can be efficient, affordable, comfortable and healthy.

Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation

Evanston, IL

Ross Barney Architects

Contact: Carol Ross Barney


This is the new synagogue for the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation (JRC) in Evanston, Illinois. The design balances the limitations of a small site with an ambitious program that promotes worship, education, and community objectives. The key environmental issues that influenced the project design were land use and stormwater management.

JRC's commitment to the principle of tikkun olam—Hebrew for "repairing the world"—is manifest in the building's architecture. On a modest budget, the synagogue achieved a LEED Platinum certification, a primary goal of its board of directors. JRC has become a community leader, demonstrating benefits of green design.

Portola Valley Town Center

Portola Valley, CA

Siegel & Strain Architects

Contact: Larry Strain
(510) 547-8092

The new town center weaves together oak woodlands, playing fields, and new buildings into a civic center that meets the town's goals to compliment the natural beauty of the landscape in the greenest way possible. The public was very involved in the design process, and helped set goals to help evaluate design proposals. The seismically unsafe, old town center was deconstructed; materials from the buildings were reused as beams, paneling, countertops, and structural fill. The new buildings are 20% smaller. The exterior siding and louvers are salvaged wood, and the wood flooring is local eucalyptus. The concrete mix is 70% slag. These and other measures reduced construction carbon emissions by 32%.

Shangri La Botanical Gardens & Nature Center

Orange, TX

Lake|Flato Architects

Contact: Larry Strain
(210) 227-3335

Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center serves primarily as an interpretive center for the site's native ecosystems—cypress and tupelo swamp, wooded uplands, and prairie lowlands—as well as a facility for study and research. A program of the Stark Foundation, Shangri La connects visitors of all ages with nature. The project began with the restoration of the land, which had been closed to the public for 50 years. The primary goal was a plan for the facilities that balanced access with preservation of the site.

The project earned the first LEED for New Construction Platinum rating in the state of Texas and the Gulf Coast region.

Synergy at Dockside Green

Victoria, BC, Canada

Busby Perkins+Will Architects Co.

Contact: Michael Driedger
(604) 484-2249

From the beginning of the master planning process in early 2005, the project team for Dockside Green focused on the triple bottom line: ecological, economic, and social sustainability. The project team designed the building form and orientation as well as the envelope design to produce the most energy-efficient and user-friendly building possible on the site. Sometimes the design goals put energy-efficiency and occupant control at odds. Some strategies, like the rolling canopies used to control glare and solar heat gain, managed to bridge the gap. Occupants have control over their spaces through a dashboard that controls these canopies as well as heating and ventilation.

Materials were chosen for their durability, recycled content, and regionality. Rapidly renewable materials such as bamboo and cork were used as interior finishes, and materials with low levels of volatile organic compounds were chosen.

The Terry Thomas

Seattle, WA

Weber Thompson

Contact: Gabe Hanson
(206) 344-5700

The challenge in designing The Terry Thomas was to design a place-specific, environmentally responsible workplace that would enhance occupant health and productivity while reflecting the eco-friendly ethos of its inhabitants. Reducing the building's dependence on energy was a high priority.

The project team began the design process by conducting a survey among the staff of the primary tenants about their priorities for their new workspace. The most frequently requested features were daylighting, natural ventilation, and improved community meeting spaces. The designers responded by creating a holistic design concept tailored to its specific site and made daylight, ventilation, and reinforced community connections a priority.

As both the designers and inhabitants of The Terry Thomas, the occupants now enjoy the benefits of strong natural and cultural connections while simultaneously increasing their productivity potential. In the process, they have created an experimental and educational tool for promoting sustainable design.

World Headquarters for the International Fund for Animal Welfare

Yarmouthport, MA

DesignLAB Architects

Contact: Robert Miklos
(617) 350-3005

The design team transformed the project's brownfield site into an asset by creating a restored meadow, re-establishing a natural habitat with native vegetation. Within the building, IFAW chose to incorporate practical, straightforward, low-tech, low-cost strategies for sustainable design such as siting, orientation, natural daylighting and ventilation, and high-efficiency mechanical systems.

Because of IFAW's commitment to the environment, incorporating sustainable strategies was just as important as other, more typical office design concerns. IFAW employees were involved in design workshops to create a plan that would maximize the organization's effectiveness. The result was a plan that reduces square footage by 50% per person while expanding the collaborative workspace and increasing the employees' sense of ownership of the space.

The use of LEED as a guide rather than a goal allowed IFAW to track and pursue initiatives relative to cost and accreditation, but to deviate from certain credits as dictated by pragmatism and institutional objectives. The process actually increased the project's eventual rating, by continually revising the strategies without feeling beholden to any one method.

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