NASA Sustainability Base

NASA Sustainability Base wins Good Design is Good Business Award

What can a federal agency teach the private sector? Good design is good business.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., June 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — William McDonough + Partners is pleased to announce that Sustainability Base, the facility it designed for the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, has been named a Good Design is Good Business award winner by Architectural Record magazine. For 17 years, the magazine has honored a select group of projects whose intentions and results prove the value of design from the business side, recognizing firm/client collaborations that show how design benefits an organization’s bottom line.

In this case, it is the business of a federal agency that was behind this facility—the first new building on the Ames campus since the 1960s. The project had a tight timeline and a strict budget, and the NASA team wanted something extraordinary. What they got was a building that went to LEED Platinum Certified … and beyond. The project is already energy positive, providing excess power to the Ames campus, and is designed for continuous improvement over time.

“I have been talking about a ‘building like a tree’ for decades now,” says William McDonough, “and this project represents a unique merger of that concept with technological advances and anticipatory design. It’s a special happening, something a poet might call ‘a beautiful, fierce commotion.’ And I am extremely proud that it also represents fiscal responsibility of the highest order. Showing the value of good design on this budget in the middle of Silicon Valley is especially powerful as a model for the many growing businesses in the region.”

Steve Zornetzer, Associate Director of NASA Ames Research Center, says that NASA “wanted to build the highest-performing building in the federal government and create a unique demonstration of NASA technology in the built environment. We saw an opportunity to bring back to the people of planet Earth the technologies that we’ve developed for aerospace exploration. Of course, we also had a firmly fixed budget and timeline. Bill [McDonough] and I knew we didn’t have to let that hamper innovation or design quality.”

William McDonough + Partners has earned this honor before. In 1997, it was earned by the Herman Miller Greenhouse (offices and factory), and in 1998, it went to the Gap, Inc. facility in San Bruno, California (now home to Google’s YouTube).

About William McDonough + Partners
William McDonough + Partners is an award-winning architecture and design firm widely recognized for its pioneering role in sustainable design. The firm executes a diverse array of projects from studios in Charlottesville, Virginia, and San Francisco. The team practices a positive, principled design approach that draws inspiration from living systems and from theCradle to Cradle® framework co-developed by its founder, William McDonough, who has co-authored Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (2002) and spoken at several conferences worldwide, including the World Economic Forum. The practice was founded in 1981 in New York, and relocated to Virginia in 1994, when William McDonough became Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia. William McDonough is currently on the Board of Directors for Sustainability at ASU. Among the practice’s diverse achievements are several recognized landmarks of the sustainability movement, such as Herman Miller’s GreenHouse Factory and Offices, Gap, Inc., the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies at Oberlin College, the Ford Rouge Revitalization, and more. Cradle to Cradle® and C2C® are registered trademarks of MBDC.


Forbes: NASA’s New Sensor-Driven Ultra Green Building”

USA Today: “NASA Research Center Goes Ultragreen”

Innovation Investment Journal “Rethinking space on earth: NASA and sustainable buildings”

ExecutiveGov “NASA’s Green Frontier”

Inhabitat “NASA Base is Most Sustainable Federal Building Project in America”