Since the Oklahoma City bombing, most Federal buildings have been barricaded with bollards, boulders, and yards and yards of hardscape. A new design for a Federal Office Building by Chicago’s Krueck + Sexton takes a different tact, emphasizing architectural lightness with a building set in the soft, marsh landscape of the Florida Everglades.
The six and seven story, roughly 375,000 square foot building—two bars linked by a bridge—sits on a 20 acre-site, formerly a gravel filled lot, which will be restored to a natural, wetland condition. This landscape strategy, developed with the local landscape architects Curtis + Rogers, serves many functions, while also creating a beautiful backdrop for the machine white building: habitat creation, storm water management, cooling for building mechanicals, as well as security. Enclosed by invisible ha-has, the soft terrain will also create a substantial buffer around the building. “We set out to create a high performance, contemporary building, set in this remarkable Everglades landscape,” said Mark Sexton, a principal at Krueck + Sexton.
The building itself, actually two 60-foot-wide, 400-foot-long buildings with curved and faceted glass facades, looks fragile, but it is engineered to withstand the region’s powerful hurricanes. The thinness of the volumes will allow daylight to penetrate deep into the building’s floorplates while offering generous views outside, and white aluminum solar shading will block heat gain. The faceted surfaces as well as white ceramic fritting will prevent bird collisions. An adjacent service building and 700 car parking structure, topped with a solar array, will keep more than half of the site open space. The GSA hopes the building will be net zero by 2030, and additional photovoltaics could be added to the office building. The building is mandated to reach LEED Gold, but Sexton, who is working with Atelier Ten on the environmental systems, believes they could surpass that.
“You hear so many negative things about government, but they are easily some of the most sophisticated clients we’ve ever worked with,” Sexton said of the GSA. “They really believe in the power of architecture. We love that.”