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Eco-friendly structures upgrade historic buildings

Exteriors, Features | November 1, 2012 | By:

A Staten Island museum teaches while going green.

At the northern end of Staten Island, N.Y., is a cozy community called Snug Harbor where a recent upgrade of historic buildings for the Staten Island Children’s Museum (SICM) has been pulling in visitors with its new educational facilities. The SICM is part of the largest ongoing adaptive reuse project in the U.S., the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, consisting of 28 buildings that once were part of the first home for retired merchant seamen in the country established in the 1830s.

Although most of the Snug Harbor historic buildings are of various classical revival styles from the 19th century, (the Children’s Museum included), this fabric and steel Meadow Structure dates from this summer, 2012. Part of a series of environmental structures designed by Marpillero Pollack Architects, this freestanding tensile fabric structure is integrated with flexible photovoltaic units that collect solar energy to power low-voltage lighting and provides year-round shelter for outdoor educational program space.

Marpillero Pollack has integrated additional sustainable design features into the museum’s historic buildings that employ renewable energy sources and innovative technologies to not only reduce the project’s carbon footprint, but also serve as educational demonstrations to educate visitors. The Meadow Structure also supports this mission: the PV panels that power the low-voltage lighting are designed to be removed if necessary without disturbing the roof fabric. Lessons learned.

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