Svhec Energy Center

CompanyTrain Architects
Lead DesignerM. Kirk Train, FAIA
PrizeLandscape Architecture / Educational

Funded by Virginia Tobacco Commission funds, the Energy Center's purpose is to act as a business incubator for startup research firms focused on clean energy. Located near the Southwest Virginia coal fields, the Center is uniquely located to pursue research, giving businesses and academics office field lab space in an immediate area of important study; such as sequestration of carbon gas. The challenge was to design a signature building that embodied the principals of the building's purpose: Clean Energy. Its dual function as R&D Center and public education model set the context of the design for the building to exhibit its systems and educate users and the public from that exhibition. The Center is office, research lab and self-promoter of sustainable Clean Energy in one small package; one who needed to seem larger than reality. A large parasol canopy at the south facade shields the building and glass from direct sunlight while enabling distant views and support of solar panels. A vertical wind spire creates a totem that anchors the building and circulation spine. Natural cherry wood panel ceilings and stairs contrast with brick walls and polished concrete floors. Natural light is brought into the interiors with skylights and light tubes. The entry lobby serves as exhibit space, illustrating clean energy sources. The exterior is scaled to be read from the highway, Historic Route 11. The exterior brick patters are brought inside and re-scaled. Interior brick and warm wood give a tactile quality to the interior. The Center has pursued LEED Gold Certification and is currently under review. This has been obtained through geo-thermal heating and cooling, natural ventilation, on-site renewable energy, local sustainable materials, recyclable materials and water-use reduction for building use and landscape.