Hydroponic Facility

This hydroponics facility functions as an urban greenhouse intended to provide high quality vegetables and herbs to the associated hotel as well as to surrounding restaurants and local markets. The plants are grown hydroponically in racks, receiving necessary nutrients and light through engineered systems that do not require soil, pesticides or sun light. The single-story structure presents itself as a translucent cube that is divided into two areas, a grow room that houses the hydroponic grow rack systems and an event space that is used by the hotel for tastings, event closings, and educational events for small groups.

Design Challenge

The largest challenge for this project was working through the necessary environmental requirements for the hydroponics system in order to create a new prototype for the client. Specifically, the grow racks have unique light control requirements and the grow lamps give off a strong pink light that requires tempering for both environmental and aesthetic purposes. The artificial lighting was ultimately embraced and highlighted as a defining feature of the project through the decision to allow the building to become a glowing jewel box within the surrounding urban context. The glowing box effect was achieved by selecting an all polycarbonate glazing system that utilizes large, clear-orange peeled sheets to display the racks while simultaneously controlling UV intrusion. This helps to tone down some of the pink light in the evening, turning it into a soft glow. Bi-frosted panels on the top and along the sides of the structure help to further mitigate the UV intrusion throughout the day. The adjacent event space allows the racks to be displayed to guests through a traditional glazing system that serves as an interface utilizing mechanized shear shades to dampen the pink glow as necessary.

Physical Context

The surrounding physical context posed a number of design challenges. In order to keep a clean modern look, while still complementing the surrounding urban environment, the building’s material palette was limited to that of a glowing box, allowing the plant racks to be put on display to the public, framed by solid areas clad with lightly colored metal panels. The building is also perched atop an existing plaza, above an existing kitchen, storage room and parking garage. The existing concrete columns supporting the plaza were utilized as bearing points for the entirety of the structure of the new building. In an effort to maintain a clean interior within the new space, yet express the structural tectonics of the building frame, steel pipe columns and exposed pipe kickers/supports are used to support and frame the polycarbonate glazing system. A number of articulations were made to the massing and roof lines of the new structure in order to tie it into the existing, adjacent hotel façade. It ultimately resulted in the stepping of the building into three different heights. The tallest box, containing tall grow racks, provided frontage along the street. The main back rack was lower to allow the atypically large HVAC units to be craned up and under the existing hotel roof overhang. Lastly, in order to retain the existing plaza that cantilevers out adjacent to the new building, the roof stepped down again, resulting in a glass box displaying a large grow rack to the street below.