William McDonough + Partners

Moffett Field, California

Despite legend, the orange drink Tang is not among NASA innovations that benefit life on earth. But the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has pioneered such technologies as high-efficiency solar cells to support life in space. So when its Ames Research Center received a grant to build a new facility, NASA seized the opportunity to showcase its state-of-the-art sustainability achievements.

“We wanted to build the greenest building in the federal government and create a unique demonstration of NASA technology in the built environment,” says Steve Zornetzer, NASA Ames's associate director.

The Center, located in the San Francisco Bay area, found a firm with like principles in William McDonough + Partners. The architects designed two curving bars with a connecting lobby. A narrow floor plate maximizes daylight and natural ventilation. As the client wanted flexible space that could be easily reconfigured over its lifespan, the design team put the structure on the outside, so no internal columns disrupt the floor plan. The two-story steel exoskeleton did not cost more than a typical structural system and doubles as a support for shading devices. Highlights of the LEED Platinum'certified building include a geothermal chilled-beam cooling system, fuel cells, forward-osmosis graywater recycling, and intelligent building-control software. The result: an extremely efficient building that “learns” over time to reduce energy consumption. (It has dropped from 2 to 1.5 watts per square foot since it opened, with a goal of 1.1 watts—typical building usage being 3 to 4 watts, according to the client.)

“The biggest innovation is the integration of all the technologies and passive strategies to get the most value,” says project architect Alastair Reilly. “You don't need rocket science to build a green building, but, in this case, we were actually able to use rocket science.”

Architect: William McDonough + Partners — William McDonough, principal; Alastair Reilly, Michelle Amt, design architects

Architect of record/engineers/landscape architect: AECOM

Consultants: Siteworks Studio (landscape); Loisos + Ubbelohde (lighting/daylighting/energy); MBDC (materials assessment); TBD Consulting (cost estimating)

General Contractor: Swinerton Builders

Client: NASA Ames Research Center

Size: 50,000 square feet

Total project Cost: $27.8 million

Completion date: December 2012


Formal name of building:
Sustainability Base

NASA Ames Research Campus, Moffett Field, California

Completion Date:
December 2012

Gross square footage:

Total project cost:

Total construction cost:
$24.8M (Note: Cost of the Bloom Energy fuel cell and the roof PVs were not part of the construction budget.)

NASA Ames Research Center


Architect's firm name, address, phone, and fax number:
William McDonough + Partners
700 East Jefferson Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902
434-979-1111 (phone)
434-979-1112 (fax)

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
William McDonough, FAIA, Int. FRIBA
Alastair Reilly, Design Architect, William McDonough + Partners
Michelle Amt, Design Architect, William McDonough + Partners

Architect of record, if applicable:
AECOM, 150 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

Interior designer:
AECOM, 150 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

Engineers (structural, civil, mechanical, etc.):
Civil Engineer: AECOM, 999 Town and Country Road, Orange, CA 92868 Structural Engineer: AECOM, 515 S. Flower Street, 9th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90071
Mechanical Engineer: AECOM, Mail Stop 213-8, Bldg. N213, Rm. 213, P.O Box 1, Moffett Field, CA 94035-0001
Electrical Engineer: AECOM, 800 LaSalle Avenue, Suite 250, Minneapolis, MN 55402
Plumbing: AECOM, Mail Stop 213-8, Bldg. N213, Rm. 213, P.O Box 1, Moffett Field, CA 94035-0001

Landscape: Pete O'Shea, Siteworks Studio, 826c Hinton Avenue, Charlottesville, VA 22902
Landscape Architect of Record: AECOM
Lighting / Daylighting / Energy: George Loisos, Principal, Susan Ubbelohde, Principal, Loisos + Ubbelohde, 1917 Clement Ave Building 10A, Alameda, CA 94501
Materials Assessment: MBDC (McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry), Howie Fendley, Sr. Environmental Chemist, MBDC, 1001 Market Street, Suite 200, Charlottesville, VA 22902
Cost Estimating: Geoff Canham, TBD Consulting, 111 Pine Street, San Francisco, CA 94111
General contractor: Jack Carter, Senior Project Manager, Swinerton Builders 260 Townsend Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

Cesar Rubio Photography, 415-550-6369



Structural system
List type, e.g. concrete or steel frame, wood, etc.: Steel Frame
Manufacturer of any structural components unique to this project: Olson Steel, Fresno, CA

Exterior cladding
Metal Panels: Centria
Metal/glass curtain wall: Kawneer 1600 Wall System with exterior sunshades

Other: Sarnafil PVC

Metal frame: Kawneer

Glass: PPG Solarban 70XL
Skylights: Sunoptic

Entrances: Kawneer
Metal doors: Rocky Mountain Metals, Inc.
Wood doors: Marshfield

Locksets: Best Hardware
Closers: Norton
Exit devices: Von Duprin

Interior finishes
Acoustical ceilings: Armstrong
Suspension grid: Armstrong
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: Associated Fixture Manufacturing
Paints and stains: Kelly-Moore Paints
Plastic laminate: ARPA Laminate
Solid surfacing: Ice Stone
Floor and wall tile: Restroom Walls: American Olean
Restroom Floor: ASI Flooring
Resilient flooring: Forbo Marmoleum
Carpet Tile: J+J Invision
Raised flooring: Tate
Special interior finishes unique to this project: Recycled White Oak Flooring

Office furniture: Haworth
Chairs: Haworth “very seminar” task chair, Herman Miller Mirra task chair
Tables: Haworth Training room mobile table, Haworth Round Mobile task table
Other furniture (use additional sheet if necessary): Teknion Credenza

Interior ambient lighting: Kawneer InLighten Light Shelf
Downlights: Finelite
Exterior: ERCO
Dimming System or other lighting controls: Lutron

Elevators/Escalators: Shindler

(include water fountains and water-saving fixtures as applicable) Zurn

Energy management or building automation system: Siemens
Photovoltaic system: SunPower E19

Other unique products that contribute to sustainability:
Interior Shades: MechoSystems Mecho/5 with EcoVeil
Chillers: WaterFurnace NXW 360 reversible chiller
Fuel Cell: Bloom Energy Solid-oxide fuel cell, ES 5700