The Ocean Conservancy


with William McDonough + Partners

Allison Ewing and Chris Hays, known as green architects in the Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland region, have led the design of a range of projects.  In Washington DC, while Partner at William McDonough + Partners, Allison Ewing led The Ocean Conservancy (TOC) project.  TOC is a non-profit dedicated to saving the oceans through science-based solutions.  The organization was looking to renovate their new offices on K Street and sought green architects in the Washington DC region. Consistent with the green focus of TOC, the architects integrated the Cradle to Cradle philosophy which models design on nature’s processes.  The project concept became “going green means living blue” and incorporated sustainable design in the form of materials and technologies that can be safely returned to the environment or continuously recycled.

The architects also sought to communicate the organization’s green focus and to create a strong street presence.  The façade, lit at night by images of undersea life, stimulate Washington DC pedestrians to learn more about the health of the oceans.

The Ocean Conservancy, Washington DC offices is comprised of numerous departments that worked in silos.  To enhance inter-departmental collaboration, the architects designed a central stair flanking the facade and incorporated seating and meeting spaces nearby.  The facade itself also incorporates small meeting spaces. These strategies all serve to heighten opportunities for chance encounters toward improving interdepartmental cross pollination by celebrating social interaction and collaboration within the organization.  This architectural and workplace concept also serves the green agenda of The Ocean Conservancy — the atrium acts as a solar chimney to vent waste heat.

The Washington DC climate also informed the design.  Solar studies were generated to identify optimal locations for solar shading.  Other green architecture practices integrated into the design include:  1) Cradle to Cradle furniture systems (Steelcase), 2) a unique HVAC system using the atrium as a solar chimney to vent waste heat, 3)heat reclamation units (ERVs), 4)high performing glass, 5)operable sun shades to let in daylight while keeping out unwanted heat gain, 6)Cradle to Cradle materials, 7)fresh air to each work station for optimized indoor air quality, and 8)solar light tubes to bring daylight into the interior of the building.

The architect’s team successfully achieved their three-pronged goal to: 1)support the sustainable focus of the client through incorporation of green strategies; 2)enhance workplace collaboration; 3)create a strong street presence which embodies in the architecture the spirit of The Ocean Conservancy.   This overall approach exemplifies the commercial work of Hays Ewing Design Studio – HEDS as green architects in Washington DC and elsewhere.