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LRK: Concourse world's largest LEED Platinum building for historic adaptive reuse

01/08/2018

Tom Bailey
USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee

Crosstown Concourse has just become the world's largest building to be awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification for historic adaptive reuse, according to the Memphis architecture firm that worked on the project.

The former Sears distribution center of 1.5 million square feet officially reopened in August after being renovated as a 1.1 million-square-foot mixed-use development at N. Watkins and N. Parkway.

“Through extensive research regarding Crosstown Concourse’s size and scope, we believe this correctly qualifies the title as the largest historic adaptive reuse LEED Building Design + Construction Platinum project in the world,” Tony Pellicciotti said in a press release. He is a principal at Looney Ricks Kiss (LRK) architects.

LEED is a green building rating system in which projects can earn one of four LEED rating levels — Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum — in one of five categories: Building Design + Construction; Interior Design + Construction; Building Operations + Maintenance; Neighborhood Development; and Homes.

LRK designed Crosstown Concourse with the Canadian firm DIALOG.

“We believe inherently in sustainable design at the highest level, no matter the scorecard,'' Pellicciotti said. "Every single collaborative decision we made stemmed from our innate goal to advance the mission of this transformative project.”

“A project like Crosstown Concourse, with such size and complexity, could have easily succumbed into following conventional design and construction methods,” said Krissy Buck Flickinger, LRK's director of sustainability and wellness. “But with the unwavering commitment of the Crosstown development team led by Todd Richardson and McLean Wilson, we found partners who cherished the opportunity to make an eco-conscious statement in the community.''

LRK learned on Dec. 19 that the building has achieved LEED Platinum certification, and spent the past few weeks researching whether Crosstown Concourse is the world's largest building of its kind to achieve the status.

"It's difficult to prove,'' Pellicciotti said. "We wanted to make sure so we had several entities researching.''

The developers and architects achieved sustainability with conventional technologies instead of "sexier'' and more expensive means such as massive solar-panel arrays and windmills, Pellicciotti said.

"It starts with the whole concept of reusing the building,'' he said. "Everything about the site is sustainable starting from the density. Hard to argue about the density of Crosstown,'' he said, referring to the 267 residential apartments, about 40 commercial and nonprofit tenants that include a high school, stores and restaurants. 

Recycling was a major contributor to Crosstown's achievement. "We recycled more than 65 million pounds of material,'' Pellicciotti said. "Of all the waste that was created during demolition and construction, we were able to recycle 94 percent.''

For example, tons of concrete were removed in carving out sections of the building to create large atriums. The rubble was crushed and reused as base material for road building, he said.

"To me, the piece I'm most proud of is we did not spend a single dollar not consistent with the (Crosstown Concourse) program,'' Pellicciotti said. "We did not do stuff to buy LEED points.''

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