As one of the leading green design schools in the country, it’s no surprise that the Pratt Institute’s new Myrtle Hall facility is a physical manifestation of the latest in sustainability. Yet, like any good design, the six-story, 120,000-square-foot building is more than just green—it creates a striking campus gateway for the community and represents a renewed commitment to the rapidly transforming Fort Greene and Clinton Hill neighborhoods of Brooklyn.
Designed by the New York City architecture firm WASA/Studio A, the academic and administrative building received LEED Gold certification based on eco-features that include exterior sun shades; a green roof that absorbs rainwater, reflects heat and sequesters greenhouse gasses; and solar photo-voltaic panels that generate on-site electricity. It is the first higher education building project in Brooklyn to receive LEED certification, as well as the first academic building in Brooklyn to receive LEED Gold certification.
On the south side of the building is a landscaped park designed by Pratt Professor of Architecture and Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects Principal Signe Nielsen that provides an attractive and quiet public space. The park features light-colored pavement that reflects sunlight to reduce the “heat island” effect, as well as native and drought-resistant plants that require only rainwater. The landscaping was designed to recall the main campus in order to give the complex a sense of continuity.
The design of Myrtle Hall involves two site-specific wall types—a glass curtain wall and a paneled masonry wall that relates to the surrounding mercantile brick structures found along Myrtle Avenue while maintaining a contemporary look. Connecting the two wall systems is a four-story atrium with views into and through the building from both sides. Other prominent design features include a loft-like, light-filled interior that is consistent with the industrial character of Pratt’s creative workspaces.
“Our building design is meant to explore the relationship between Pratt and the larger community within which it resides, and the development of the two principal wall systems, tied together by the transparent central gathering space, is meant to be a metaphor for that relationship,” says Jack Esterson, AIA, partner-in-charge of design at WASA/Studio A. “We hope that it fully expresses a positive relationship and the quality of design innovation that Pratt represents to its students, faculty and staff, as well as to the city at large.”