Sustainable architecture for modern education building in Bogotá

The Bogotá skyline has attracted big names in architecture during the last several years with Richard Meier designing Virium along the Carrera Séptima, the completion next year of the tallest skyscraper in the city BD Bacatá, and the recently approved blueprint for a cultural center along the Carrera 15 by the award winning firm Foster + Partners. An impressive list that keeps growing, can now count on the San Francisco based architect William McDonough, who was awarded an ambitious project to design a 20,000 square meter educational complex for the Universidad EAN in the heart of the Nogal residential area and several blocks south of the bustling Zona Rosa.

The building, that will break ground next year, incorporates McDonough’s Cradle to Cradle design for the environment philosophy, and which has earned him prestigious awards and international recognition for his holistic and sustainable approach to architecture. In 1999, Time magazine recognized him as “Hero for the Planet,” stating “his utopianism is grounded in a unified philosophy that—in demonstrable and practical ways—is changing the design of the world.”

The planned 10-floor EAN building includes science laboratories, classrooms, administrative offices, cafeteria, indoor basketball court and a 500-seat auditorium. An exterior terrace will provide connectivity to nature, and temperate Bogotá climate. The defining element of the ecological structure is a sun shade constructed with McDonough’s WonderFrame technology, where perforated colored shade panels block glare, yet allow for views.

Energy, water, and resource use have been optimized, and ventilation will be natural, facilitated through effective solar chimneys that draw air through the building and exhaust it at the roof. In addition to the climate responsiveness, building materials have been considered for human and ecological health. The project is also seen as a first for zero carbon construction in Bogotá, and catalyst to introduce Cradle to Cradle modules in the country.

As an architect of sustainable development, William McDonough recently launched Carbon Positive City, widely considered a new language for designers and urban planners on how to integrate carbon across an urban landscape. With a footing in the capital through the Universidad EAN, McDonough’s high structure will be very visible to the passerby, and a reminder that buildings should not only transform skylines, but keep them cleaner from emissions.