Historic Bank Building Is Transformed into a LEED Platinum Workplace

Unexpected Turns

When renovating a historic building, demolition always brings surprises. Our initial structural design expected to rely on the building’s main vault for support for the new mezzanine with additional strengthening to meet contemporary building standards and seismic codes. However, once the existing vault walls were tested, our structural engineers, Ferrari Shields and Associates, Reno, discovered the vault’s concrete lacked any structural integrity. The original builders did not use rebar and instead laid wire belts horizontally into the walls that created weak spots in the concrete. New columns, ringing the first floor and mezzanine, were needed to support the building.

An open penthouse on the roof with views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is a favorite place for employees to work and unwind.

An open penthouse on the roof with views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is a favorite place for employees to work and unwind.


The team custom-designed many elements when off-the-shelf products would not blend seamlessly with the building’s character or would not meet sustainability requirements. The interior design of the project became a carefully calibrated selection of which historic elements to preserve and which green products could fit seamlessly into the historic context—while coming together to create a contemporary workplace. The new elements and materials that make up most of the building are faced or treated to look historic and create a perfect illusion of originating in history. For the new columns, a typical approach to “historicizing” column details would be to buy new false column wraps, which would have allowed for limited design options and a less environmentally friendly solution. Instead, the design team clad the new 4 by 4 structural steel columns with wood molding top to bottom to recall ultra-narrow cast-iron posts. An oxidizing paint finish created the rust-color effect.

One historic element that remained was the original gold-leaf ceiling, which we wanted to preserve at all costs. This meant that while working on the roof’s structure, the construction team had to support the second floor and roof without impacting the ceiling. For an additional challenge, old joists made of composite materials had been used to support the ceiling and about three-quarters of them had to be painstakingly channeled by hand with claw hammers and filled with modern steel joists. This laborious process enabled us to maintain the original character while greatly strengthening the building.

To achieve the LEED Platinum rating, we integrated passive and active environmental strategies. Ground-source heat pumps and wells drilled into the street use the differential in ground temperature to heat and cool the building and render a typical HVAC system unnecessary. Solar tubes circle the roof, illuminating the mezzanine’s interior spaces with daylight. The design integrated new, environmentally responsible, healthy interior building products, finishes and fixtures that blend seamlessly with the preserved historic building elements.

To optimize energy performance, we incorporated an extensive energy and daylighting modeling strategy, which we used to make informed decisions regarding the building’s system and assembly selections. The energy system combines direct and indirect evaporative cooling, building-mass utilization, natural ventilation, natural light with skylights, ground-source heat-pump technology, radiant cooling and heating, and chilled beams to use an expected 62 percent less energy than a baseline building of the same size and type. The ground-source heat wells contribute 37 percent of the building’s overall energy savings while the latest solar panel calculations show they are covering 39 percent of the building’s energy needs.

Some historic features were preserved in place, like the gold-leaf lobby ceiling. new elements and materials that make up most of the building are faced or treated to look historic.

Some historic features were preserved in place, like the gold-leaf lobby ceiling. new elements and materials that make up most of the building are faced or treated to look historic.


The resulting LEED Platinum building demonstrates that with creativity and a good team, a building’s rehabilitation opens doors for historic preservation, sustainability and the meeting of the two in the most unlikely places. In marrying traditional design with modern features and sustainability, the adaptive reuse of farmer’s bank illustrates green design transcends stylistic labels or single-track approaches—and serves as a model for celebrating history in a modern, sustainable workplace.

Materials

Oxidizing Paint Finish On Column Enclosures: Modern Masters Metal Effects
22-Inch Sun Tunnels: VELUX
Solar Panels: LSX from Lumos
White Oak Wood Flooring: Greyne
White Oak Flooring Finish: Custom Colory by Rubio Monocoat
Carpet: Karastan
573 Nicolete Guest Seating Chairs: ISA International
Marble-Topped Castiron Bases On Roofdeck Tables: West Coast Industries
Horizon Armchairs: Westminster Teak (SVLK certified)
LED Bulbs: Acculamp from Acuity Brands
Surface-Mounted LED Fixtures: Lumenbeam from Lumenpulse
Linear Pendants: Delray Lighting Inc.
Linear LED Wall Washers: Ecosense
Floor-Standing Lamps With Silk Shades and 0.5-WATT Orange Candelabra Bulbs: Horchow
Standard Metal Parts for Custom Metalwork: Julius Blum & Co. Inc.
Ground-Source Heat Pumps: Aaon (air) and Johnson Controls (water)
Radiant Cooling: Krueger
Indirect Evaporative Cooling Dedicated Outdoor Air System: Coolorado
Chilled-Beam Pumping System: Taco

Retrofit Team

Client/Owner: Christopher and Camille Bently, Bently Enterprises, Minden, Nev.
Design Architect: Revel Architecture & Design, San Francisco
Architect of Record: J.P. Copoulos Architect, Carson City, Nev.
General Contractor: Miles Construction, Carson City
Landscape Architect: Moana Nursery, Reno, Nev.
Structural Engineer: Ferrari Shields & Associates, Reno
Electrical Engineer: JP Engineering LLC, Reno, (775) 852-2337
Mechanical Engineer: SEED Inc., Incline Village, Nev.
Civil Engineer: RO Anderson Engineering, Minden
Furniture Vendor: KAHL Commercial Interiors Inc., Reno
Custom Sit/Stand Workstations (Designed by ARCHITECT): Dependable Furniture Manufacturing, San Leandro, Calif.
Metalwork: Paramount Iron & Handrail Inc., Moundhouse, Nev.
Millwork: Complete Millwork Services, Carson City

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