Friday, April 21, 2006

Philly's Top Secret Green Building Wins AIA Award, Thanks to Waterless Urinals

All during the recent Urinals-gate, I heard rumors that a certain city-owned police forensic lab had quietly installed environmentally-friendly waterless urinals, even though they are prohibited by Philadelphia's plumbing code. I called the lab to check on the story, but was told the matter was top secret. So guess what! It's true. The building just won a national award from the American Institute of Architects for being one of the Top Ten Green Projects of 2006. Not for the urinals, of course. The city is really going to have to come clean now.
Philadelphia's Forensic Science Center is located in a former art deco school building in an undisclosed location somewhere in the city. (*see below) The interior is fitted out like a typical science lab, with lab tables and ventilation hoods. Because of all the air-handling requirements, it's especially difficult to design those sorts of buildings according to the U.S. Green Building Council's guidelines. But the designers - Croxton Collaborative Architects and Cecil Baker & Associates - succeeded spectacularly. Despite a tight budget, the AIA jury said it was one of the best buildings it reviewed. No doubt those "high efficiency plumbing fixtures to minimize water consumption" - ie. waterless urinals - had something to do with it. It's going to be difficult for the Department of Licenses & Inspections to insist that the Comcast Tower remain the only test site for the technology when the city itself has been running its own intensive tests for months. So far, no police forensic experts have suffered any harm.
(*This is a meant as a little joke. I'm told by sources that the lab is in North Philly, near Temple University.)


Blogger rasphila said...

The location may be undisclosed, but I went on a tour of the place a couple of years ago with an AIA green building tour. My wife is on the board of the Friends Center, which is working toward going green. I got invited as a spouse guest.

It is a very impressive piece of work and deserving of the award. Not just for the the waterless urinals, either. Forensics labs have a lot of problems being green because of all the chemicals they have to use. I thought the architects' solutions to these problems were very ingenious, and there is no doubt that the lab workers were much happier there than in their old and totally inadequate location. The use of natural light was simply stunning; the feel of the place was well-designed to provide relief from the horrific issues that forensics people often have to deal with; and according to the captain at the time, morale had never been higher.

I am really happy they got this award.

3:44 PM  
Blogger rasphila said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh, why exactly is the site top secret? There's a press release on the Philly Police Dept. site describing the project and where it is. (Hint: according to the press release, it ain't in West Philly).

4:07 PM  
Blogger fluidmasterflapper said...

Uh, why is the location supposed to be top secret? The Philly Police Department has a press release describing the project, including the location (and, according to the press release, it ain't in West Philly).

4:11 PM  
Blogger rasphila said...

I think "undisclosed location" was not used in all seriousness here.

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The lab is @ 8th and Poplar.

10:15 AM  

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