This article is part of gb&d‘s Green Typologies series In the Workplace.
There’s an old joke that goes like this: How many Virginians does it take to change a light bulb? The answer is four: one to screw in the bulb and three to stand around talking about how good the old one was. So it’s appropriate that, when seeking a Charlottesville, Virginia, base to bring together about 450 area employees, the CFA Institute decided to make its home inside the earliest surviving building on the former Martha Jefferson Hospital campus.
Moving into a Hospital
Martha Jefferson Hospital was founded in 1903 by a group of seven physicians. They built their hospital on East High Street, forging a relationship with the surrounding residential community that would continue as the hospital flourished and grew. The Patterson Building on Locust Street was built in 1929 to serve as Martha Jefferson’s new headquarters, and the hospital eventually expanded to about eight acres and nearly 300,000 square feet. Until a few years ago, the hospital’s day shift alone brought around 850 employees to the neighborhood, plus an estimated 1,000 visitors and patients a day.
The hospital recently relocated to a brand new facility east of Charlottesville, and it was announced that a new tenant would be moving into the old Patterson Building. CFA Institute, a nonprofit professional organization for the investment industry, would occupy Patterson’s 28,000 square feet and a larger 116,000-square-foot 1970s-era wing on the south side of the campus.
Keeping History Alive
The Patterson Building is a historic landmark three times over. It’s situated in the Martha Jefferson Historic District and protected by state and federal landmark designations. The structure is a sturdy, no-nonsense building with common-bond brick, a double chimney, and an asphalt shingle roof.
Guy Williams, head of finance and risk management at CFA Institute, says that the board of governors for CFA Institute was in favor of the adaptive reuse and the positive impact it would have on the community. “It was an extremely pleasant experience, from my perspective, to present to the board all of the various alternatives and have them overwhelmingly support this,” Williams says. The project, however, was not without its challenges.
The contractor, Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, says the challenges consisted of what you’d find with any historic building—the surprises you just can’t account for until you start digging in. Many floors had non-adhering fireproofing, some retaining walls weren’t up to standard, floors were found to be uneven. But on the plus side, projects like these allow an opportunity for the careful, satisfying work of reclamation. Original terrazzo and hardwood flooring, finishes, nine-foot ceilings, and plasterwork on the walls were revealed and repaired, and original single-pane windows were sent just 50 miles away for refurbishing and setting back into spaces they had occupied for nearly a century.
More freedom could be exercised with the non-landmark South Wing, which was skinned and gutted to adapt to a more efficient, natural light-friendly office layout. For comparison, one of the former office spaces used by CFA Institute—it was leasing four in the area for its employees before this—was built in 1999, but the South Wing still has 40 percent more natural light flowing in through new transom windows, glass-rimmed cubicles, and glass walls for interior offices.
Adapting for the Future
Not only did CFA Institute face the challenges associated with adapting a historic space, but it also did it in accordance with LEED Gold certification standards. Some of the major green initiatives involve the mitigation of water, sewer, and power in-house. “On top of the fact that we’ll be using less water than the hospital required, we’re putting in a greywater reuse system,” Williams says. By diverting sink and shower water and the condensation off of the HVAC system for lavatory flushing, the system curbs the organization’s intake of public water by 70 percent while reducing sewage discharge by 30 percent. Solar panels, located on the roof and invisible from the ground to comply with regulations against interfering with the historic façade, will allow the office to run on 22 percent less energy than a building of similar program and size, and solar hot-water tubes will further reduce energy load and carbon emissions.
The end result? It’s impossible to list just one payoff. Williams and the rest of CFA Institute are thrilled to be the new neighbor on the block who preserves, rather than disrupts, the fabric of the surrounding historic community. The residents, the sound of ambulance sirens fading from their minds, have welcomed these quiet, 8-to-5 commuters with open arms. Construction and use of the building put far less strain on the environment than a new building without green technologies, and state and federal subsidies and tax credits for green building and historic preservation made the project cost effective. Use of the municipal water and sewer system plummets, and Virginians get to enjoy this good old space for many more years to come.
This article is part of gb&d‘s Green Typologies series, which in each issue explores a single type of building. For more of our most recent collection, In the Workplace: Four Innovative Offices, choose from the list below:
- Power and Light: Nova Scotia Power Headquarters by WZMH Architects
- Schneider Works Smarter: Schneider Electric offices
- Making Georgia Bloom: Super-Sod offices