AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects

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Livestrong Foundation

This photo shows the entrance to the building, including salvaged wood and concrete repurposed from the renovated warehouse.
Photo credit: Frank Ooms


  • Location: Austin, Texas
  • Building type(s): Commercial office
  • Renovation
  • 28,300 ft2 (2,630 m2)
  • Project scope: a single building
  • Urban setting
  • Completed February 2009
  • Rating: U.S. Green Building Council LEED-NC, v.2.2--Level: Gold

After 10 years of leasing space in a suburban office building, the Livestrong Foundation found its permanent home in the 1950s-era Gulf Coast Paper Co. (GPC) warehouse in East Austin, an underserved community in the process of revitalization.

The adaptive reuse of the GCP warehouse transformed the concrete tilt-wall building to provide office space, meeting rooms, multi-use facilities, an in-house gym, an open-air courtyard, and parking for the staff of 62. Ongoing plans call for adding a community-based cancer-support program to provide direct services, with an emphasis on uninsured and underinsured East Austin residents.

The building is situated on an inner-city, culturally diverse, and underserved neighborhood at the intersection of East 6th and Robert Martinez. The 30,000 ft2 "block" floor plate created challenges in providing the desired daylight and views for the foundation staff. This challenge was intensified as the building's zero-lot line relationship with the site's eastern boundary prevented the introduction of window openings. The south fa├žade adjoins the freight railroad right-of-way, also used as a commuter rail and cyclist thoroughfare. Achieving LEED Gold certification, the project reflects the LiveStrong mission "to inspire and empower people affected by cancer."

Environmental Aspects

Innovation in Adaptive Reuse is the key to unlocking the potential for sustainable development in our neglected urban centers. The existing U.S. building stock currently exceeds 275 billion ft2 and offers an unprecedented opportunity for effective change. The design for the foundation breathes new life into both the building and neighborhood, and provides a model for sustainable urban renewal.

Key design strategies include:

  • Opening the facade and roof by use of extensive north-facing saw-tooth clerestories, flooding the rectangular box with indirect natural light and sky views.
  • Recycling or reusing 88% of the materials from the demolition of the dilapidated warehouse.
  • Re-milling the salvaged roof decking to construct a variety of flexible-use enclosures or "crates," creating dynamic mixed-use working neighborhoods within the open office interior.
  • Embracing the open office concept for everyone. Even the CEO shares common office and support space with the entire staff. Common support spaces ("crates") direct traffic flow, define departments, and create interactive work spaces that adapt to changing needs over time.
  • Creating a place that contributes to its neighborhood and community.
  • Repurposing the removed concrete as retaining walls, fountains/garden elements, and walkways.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned by Livestrong Foundation
  • Typically occupied by 62 people, 40 hours per person per week; and 800 visitors per week, 2 hours per visitor per week


Integrated team, Simulation, Commissioning, Operations and maintenance, Transportation benefits, Wildlife habitat, Indigenous vegetation, Efficient fixtures and appliances, Efficient irrigation, Drought-tolerant landscaping, Insulation levels, HVAC, Lighting control and daylight harvesting, Efficient lighting, Adaptable design, Salvaged materials, Local materials, C&D waste management, Connection to outdoors, Daylighting, Indoor air quality monitoring

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Last updated: 4/14/2011

Our thanks to the ENERGY STAR program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and to the U.S. Department of Energy, and to BuildingGreen, Inc. for hosting the submission and judging forms.

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