Photo © David Sundburg/ESTO

GE Renewable Energy Global Headquarters

EYP Architecture & Engineering

Schenectady, New York

By Ingrid Spencer

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For GE, staying at the forefront of renewable energy research is such a priority that the company has invested $6 billion in that effort. The nation's top-selling wind-turbine company, GE has plans to build the largest 400-megawatt thin-film solar-panel factory in the country by 2013. The company's LEED Silver renewable energy headquarters building in Schenectady, New York, stands as a significant commitment to the growing success of its renewable energy division. It is also an investment in the community, its workforce, and the 628-acre, 120-year-old campus—a mix of manufacturing and administration buildings that hadn't seen a significant architectural project since the 1990s.

Taking advantage of its own resources, the company charged the Albany-based EYP Architecture & Engineering to adapt Building 53, an aging, century-old concrete factory, into a new headquarters to centralize executive, administrative, and engineering divisions for wind and solar power, and house a remote operation center that would contain monitoring and diagnostic capabilities for worldwide wind energy uses. “GE wanted the building to communicate a sense of purpose about the company's goals—harnessing the wind and projecting their commitment to innovation,” says Matthew O'Grady, EYP senior designer. So the architects opened the old structure, adding a glazed atrium equipped with interactive kiosks to inform visitors and employees. Its transparency reveals the inner workings of the building to the public and lets them view its key energy-related activities. An adjacent Renewables Operation Center (“The ROC”) features a system that keeps track of solar and wind-turbine activity round-the-clock.

The remainder of the building is a study in efficient, collaboration-friendly workspaces, where windows more than doubled in size and operable sun shades control solar gain. Over 90 percent of the original structure was reused for the project, and 32 percent of the materials were processed within 500 miles of the site.

“Considering a renewable energy focus didn't exist for us a decade ago,” says GE spokesperson Christine Horne, “the design of this building represents a growth and transformation of our business.”

Ingrid Spencer is a contributing editor for RECORD.

Architect:
EYP Architecture & Engineering
NanoFab East
257 Fuller Road, 1st Floor
Albany, NY 12203
518.795.3800

Completion Date: April 2010

Total construction cost: withheld

Gross square footage: 205,000 sq.ft.

May 2012
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