After earning a $50,000 award for its work on the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) campus in Saudi Arabia, the HOK team behind the project donated it to Project Haiti Orphanage and Children’s Center in Port-au-Prince. The architectural firm is no stranger to the orphanage—an all-volunteer HOK IMPACT team has worked in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to design the facility. The donation follows a $20,000 personal gift from HOK chairman emeritus Bill Valentine, FAIA.
Project Haiti, which replaces an orphanage destroyed by the 2010 earthquake, employs a net-zero-energy design that uses passive and renewable energies to create a safe, healthy environment. The building’s systems will provide independence from Port-au-Prince’s unreliable power grid, while a closed-loop system collects, treats, and stores water on-site to ensure a safe water supply. Flanking the main stair, vertical green walls feature perches for endemic epiphytes, or air plants. The rooftop garden supports the orphanage’s solar energy system and includes beds for urban farming. The sustainable design also celebrates Haitian arts and crafts culture.
“Our design team used biomimicry to create a locally attuned, responsive building,” says Thomas Knittel, AIA, HOK’s lead designer for the project. “Biomimicry teaches us that a greater understanding of the commonalities between adaptions in a biome can serve as a guide for place-based design.”
The USGBC has nearly raised enough money to begin construction this spring, enabling the orphanage to open one year later.