Project Use

The intentions for the use of Lowe Park are centered in the demonstrational aspects of the project for the local community and Iowa in general. The project is intended to show that modest, practical decisions that consider the humble, local aspects of sustainabil-ity have as much promise as expensive, highly technological and expensive solutions.

As a result, the center's educational mission focuses on communicating to visitors the importance as well as the accessibility of sustainable buildings.

Discovery garden utilizes site stormwater and fluctuates seasonally.

The center's educational mission also shows that there are many techniques that can be applied to people's daily lives.

The sustainable design of this project begins with the conservation of the native Iowa prairie— active farms remain to the north of this project and its restored prairie/park. Conceptually the building is another farm structure within the neighborhood inextricably linked to its surroundings. The land provides the heating and cooling of the facility through a geothermal heat pump system. It provides the waste wheat for the roof insulation which is created from waste products contained within structural insulated panels. It also provides both for natural sewage processing through a wetlands septic system, and on-site stormwater runoff management. The site uses all rainfall on-site. When it rains, roof water is collected in rain barrels and used for irrigation, leaving no need for a lawn sprinkler system. All of the landscaping involves native species that require no additional water beyond typical rainfall. Also, the majority of the site is restored to prairie that absorbs water and eliminates runoff. Rainwater assists in the wetlands septic system processing. All of the water around the eastern one-half of the building is drained to the water feature in the children's play space to the east of the facility. The City of Marion has committed to the notion that in dry seasons, when it becomes a dry river bed, it will not be filled with potable water. During rainy seasons, the water feature becomes a natural amenity in the garden. It helps demonstrate water and water usage to those visiting the site. Also, toilets are kept to a minimum with portable systems being used for large events.The toilet facilities within the building are low consumption and are only provided for typical building occupants.

The energy and associated cost analysis indicated an estimated payback of energy-related design items at three to five years beyond code-based systems. This included the incremental additional costs for the ground-source heat pump system, additional insulation values, daylighting systems and controls, increased window to wall area for daylighting, and energy efficient windows.

The project is designed to serve the Marion community for at least 100 years if the building is maintained properly. The building is designed to be fairly easily deconstructed at the end of its life through the use of exposed timber and SIP panels without a lot of ancillary ceilings. Exposed concrete floors can be pulverized at the end of the building's life to be used for future concrete on other projects. The building was designed with large, open rooms that have no highly specific purpose. The rooms should be used for multiple functions over the life of the facility. The project achieves the appropriate balance between budget, need, and resultant size of spaces. Each space is designed for the average anticipated group in the community and not the largest group that may use spaces infrequently. The materials were selected for their long-term durability.

The building is intended to sit humbly within the prairie and utilize simple and practical sustainable design strategies that speak directly to the local environment.

TOP: Site plan showing general sustainable site, stormwater, black water, and geothermal well fields.

BOTTOM: Floor plan—organized into zones with heat pump system for maximum efficiency.

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"he Marion Arts and Environmental Center at Lowe Park was conceived as a humble structure within a restored Iowa prairie and built on a modest budget. Designed in 2003 and completed in 2006, this I 1,865-square-foot facility and the associated park was con-

Qstructed for $2.8 million dollars, with future expansion planned. LEED certification for the building is also anticipated.

The structure is made of local and regional materials constructed with techniques typical of Midwestern rural farm structures. The building is placed within the restored tall-grass prairie and provides ^d a setting for connecting art and nature through community festivals, ^^ visiting artist courses, and environmental discovery play spaces. This midwestern ethic of sustainability through modest materials and methods informed many of the decisions made during the design and ^^ construction process. One critical component in the sustain approach to the center's design was right-sizing both the building and the required systems. This strategy generated a number of cost reductions as compared with a conventional building. Following are a number of examples of this strategy

Daylighting is a major strategy for energy conservation in the building and in many ways defines the shape of the building. Windows are located as high as possible within spaces for deep daylight penetra-PQ tion. To control sun, these windows are shaded with overhangs and I corten steel fins to reduce heat gain through the glass surfaces. This J allows for the implementation of minimal lighting.

The primary heating and cooling of the facility is from a geother-HH mal heat pump system yielding energy savings of approximately 40 ^^ to 50 percent. In order to reduce the required size for the system, Lj supplemental heat comes from a corn-burning fireplace insert. With _ regard to plumbing, toilets are kept to a code minimum with portable systems being used for large events.

Prior to the construction of the Arts and Environmental Center, the site was a corn and soybean field that had been master planned for typical suburban residential development. In lieu of this proposed

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development, the owner donated the property to the City of Marion Parks Foundation for use as a public park dedicated to art and environmental learning. As such, the site design decisions were guided by notions of demonstrating simple and more affordable sustainable site design techniques to the public.

First, the site grading work was kept to a minimum and included only the area required for immediate construction of the necessary drives, parking, and building construction. Second, rainfall on the site is collected and reused both as part of a wetlands septic system and as a water feature in the children's play space. During rainy seasons, the water feature becomes a natural amenity in the garden. It helps demonstrate water and water usage to those visiting the site.

The landscaping features only native species that require no additional water beyond typical rainfall; no permanent irrigation system is needed. Also, the majority of the site has been restored to prairie. This absorbs water and eliminates runoff—a significant problem in Iowa and on this site prior to this project.

All of these design decisions have significantly reduced the costs associated with managing and maintaining the park environment.

CARL T. CURTIS MIDWEST REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS BUILDING NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

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