Making a shy curtsy — like a Degas ballerina — the bus stop/shelter at the southeast corner of 2505 East Parleys Way is an appropriate welcome and nod of approval for the performance of a new type of building: one that is more than sustainable. This building’s self-image is “regenerative;” it acts like a living organism and is part of, not separate from, nature. It produces more than it consumes of clean air and energy. It collects and recycles rain and drain (gray) water, and through its “living walls” brings nature inside. It gives more than it takes and has regenerated the site as this building is a remodel of existing offices at the site.
This living building is presented to Salt Lake City by Arch Nexus, a design and planning firm that designed, owns, operates, and uses this work of performance art for its headquarter offices.
In all likelihood Arch Nexus’ offices will be SLC’s first building “Certified Living” according to the guidelines of The Living Building Challenge. In order to win certification from the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), which established The Challenge, the building will have to pass one year of rigorous record keeping; different from a LEED or BREEAM certified “design” standards, a “certified living building” per the Challenge must perform in accordance to regenerative criteria as defined by the ILFI for one year of continuous operation.
ILFI seeks a future that is socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative and established the Challenge in an attempt to raise the bar for building standards from just doing less harm to the environment to contributing positively; to make buildings that are living in several key performance variables including but not limited to:
Energy: The building and its systems are expected to generate more energy than they consume. Arch Nexus expects a year of monitoring will show this building to have generated 10-15% more energy than it consumes.
Water: The structure and surroundings collect rain and drain (gray) water for irrigation of both the landscaping around the building, but also the living walls in the building. Black water (sewer) will go to the sewer as per SLC ordinances.
Materials: Materials used in the building will as much as possible be recycled or reclaimed so that the resources of the earth are minimally diminished as a result of the materials of construction. More: The materials have been thoroughly investigated to ensure they do not contain hazardous or toxic chemicals. Further, wood is featured as a prominent building material because wood acts as a carbon sink; collecting greenhouse gases and rendering them harmless.
Health: Living walls within the building, watered by recycled rain and drain water, produce oxygen making the air cleaner inside the building.
Equity: Social justice will be enhanced as a result of the project and as a result of the Bus Stop/Shelter at the sidewalk entry to the building.
The bus stop/shelter is a small particular for the stunning generality. It is also designed according to LBC criteria, and designed by Arch Nexus staff architects who were selected from an in-house design competition.
The bus stop/shelter is not only a bus stop and a shelter but a trellis to support plantings that will add green space and oxygen to the site. As well, it is made from reclaimed and recycled materials including lumber from old railroad trestles, repurposed steel support columns and beams and steel connection plates and stamped architectural steel from other construction projects.
But, perhaps most symbolic is that the stop/shelter has been designed and built before the bus even stops at this location. As Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) in Field of Dreams heard in his head: “If you build it, they will come.” In order to inspire mass transit to this section of the city, promoting social justice and equity, Arch Nexus designed and built the bus stop/shelter before any buses are scheduled to stop here.
Arch Nexus is located at 2505 E Parleys Way, Salt Lake City.
J. Michael Redd is a polymath, fluent in the sciences and the arts. He has over twenty years experience as a technical, business and creative writer with an above-average ability to make that which is complex, simple.