Chesapeake Bay Foundation headquarters, competition proposal  2011 Winner  Zack Saunders

What does it mean for something to be sustainable? Does it mean a solar roof and geo-thermal energy? Perhaps. Could it mean, storing rainwater and using energy efficient fixtures? Again, perhaps. What about planning for the future? Yes. This winning proposal for the new Chesapeake Bay Foundation headquarters at Hampton Roads, VA; designed by Zack Saunders, is a building that plans for its own obsoletion. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s ‘Save the Bay’ date is 2050. What will then become of the offices and facilities that were once occupied?

We do build up our world with our current needs. And the then-current needs of years past are outliving their purposes- a shell with boarded up windows or a poorly retrofitted space remains. This proposal asks whether it is merely enough to make our current needs ‘efficient’ or if there needs to be a reexamination of what it is to build in current times. Is it enough to have office space designed for 30 workers, or should the framework for the coffee shop that will exist there in the future, be laid as well? If only the current is designed- no matter how efficiently- a day will come when its planned purpose no longer exists. And a demolition/rebuild of a LEED Platinum building is just as wasteful as the demolition and rebuild of a crappy 1950’s school.

 Courtesy of Zack Saunders

The weight of time is reflected in the architect’s depiction- portrayed not as it will look the day the architect hands over the keys, but as it will at some future, slightly dystopic date. What was once office space is now a concert venue; a conference room, the private retreat for two adventurous lovers. Open-floor plan is such a tired phrase. Each floor is designed as a ‘warehouse for “functional plug-in boxes”’ Architecture as host to minor, less permanent architectures.

The possibilities the future holds for our built works are almost infinite and the fact of the matter is, someone will decide what to do with these buildings once they have become outdated. Who it will be, is incumbent on us.

Architect: Zack Saunders
Supervised By :Heinrich Schnoedt , Professional Program Chair (4+)
School of Architecture and Design
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Courtesy of Zack Saunders


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