In Raleigh, Looking to the Long Term

General / People / Places / August 31, 2012

The best thing about working with the state of North Carolina, Raleigh-based architect Clymer Cease says, is that the client takes the long view.

“They make decisions that might be more costly in the short term, but the total cost is lower,” he says.

He cites the new Green Square parking deck, a cast-in-place concrete structure at the intersection of Edenton and McDowell Streets in downtown Raleigh, as an example.

There, the entire roof, 130 feet wide and 220 feet long, is layered with a 250 kilowatt photovoltaic system that puts out 234,000 kilowatt hours each year, and returns power to the Progress Energy grid.

“It’s the equivalent reduction of 232 tons of carbon dioxide,” the partner in Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee says.

The deck with space for 900 cars above grade and another 400 below also reduces maintenance cost with LED lighting that’s initially more expensive, but provides 50,000 hours of light versus 12,000 for cheaper fluorescents.  A 70,000-gallon cistern stores water from the PV cells on the roof, which is then tapped to irrigate the grounds of the state capitol nearby.

Inside, 23 car charging stations are reserved in preferred locations, restricted for electric-powered vehicles.

Outside, the challenges lay in shoehorning the structure in between its existing neighbors.  “We were trying to be compatible on the block, next to 1950s limestone building and a brand new museum that was going up,” he says.  “We wanted to work in a vocabulary that would complement both – with a good piece of architecture and not just a place to park cars.”

The building manages to make its own statement too, with anodized aluminum fins that provide reflective light during day and night as cars move inside and out.  “They allow you to see the building, to see by the building and to see through the building,” he says.  “They allow a lot of daylight to come in too – it’s much brighter during the daytime because we’re not blocking the light out.”

For a parking deck, that’s a new way of seeing things.

For more on Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee, go to http://www.pbclarchitecture.com/

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Michael Welton
I write about architecture, art, and design for national and international publications. I am the author of "Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand" (Routledge, 2015), and the former architecture critic for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.




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