AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects

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Whitney Water Purification Facility

This photo shows the Whitney Water Purification Facility and its green roof.
Photo credit: © Paul Warchol


  • Location: New Haven, CT
  • Building type(s): Park, Interpretive Center, Laboratory
  • New construction
  • 140,000 ft2 (13,000 m2)
  • Suburban setting
  • Completed September 2005

Designed to provide water to South Central Connecticut, the Whitney Water Purification Facility also features a public park and educational facility. The water purification occurs beneath the park (a 30,000 ft2 green roof), while the operational programs are housed in a 360-foot long stainless steel building that forms a reflective line in the landscape.

Like an inverted drop of water, the building's shape creates a curvilinear interior space that opens onto expansive views of the surrounding landscape. The interior facilities include an exhibition lobby, laboratories, a lecture hall, conference spaces, and extensive operational facilities.

This project was chosen as an AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Project for 2007. It was submitted by Steven Holl Architects, in New York City. Additional project team members are listed on the "Process" screen.

Environmental Aspects

This project was designed to demonstrate today's best green design and watershed management practices. The design fuses the architecture of the water purification plant with the landscape to form a public park. The landscape design also enlarged and augmented the existing wetlands—used by migrating birds—with indigenous species. Natural habitats were preserved in the landscape to maintain biodiversity.

Skylights in the green roof bring daylight to the treatment plant below. The below-grade location of the process spaces, the insulation value of the green roof, the thermal mass of the extensive concrete tanks and walls, and a ground-source heating and cooling system minimize the project's energy consumption.

Materials were selected for their durability in addition to recycled content, rapidly renewable content, and low chemical emissions. All regularly occupied spaces are daylit and naturally ventilated via operable windows.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned and occupied by South Central Connecticut General Water Authority, Corporation, nonprofit


Integrated team, Design charrette, Green framework, Transportation benefits, Open space preservation, Wildlife habitat, Wetlands, Indigenous vegetation, Stormwater management, Drought-tolerant landscaping, Insulation levels, Glazing, Lighting control and daylight harvesting, Durability, Benign materials, Connection to outdoors, Daylighting, Low-emitting materials

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Last updated: 4/23/2007

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.

For more information about the AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects, contact AIA/COTE. For help on how to use this Web site, contact .

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