A Living Building Challenge: Touring the Betty and Clint Josey Pavilion

About a week ago I had the privilege of joining members of the U.S. Green Building Council North Texas Chapter and fellow members of the Living Building Challenge North Texas Collaborative on a trip to Leo Ranch outside Decatur, Texas, to visit the Betty and Clint Josey Pavilion, a building designed by Lake|Flato Architects and on track to be the first Living Building in Texas.

For a building to identify as a Living Building, it must meet the requirements of the Living Building Challenge, a building certification program that establishes the highest measure of sustainability in the built environment. The Challenge is comprised of seven performance categories called Petals: Place, Water, Energy, Health and Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty.

The Josey Pavilion is a suitable building for the Challenge because as an education center, gathering place and a demonstration site for the Dixon Water Foundation, an organization that promotes healthy watersheds using sustainable land management practices, the site promotes ecological stewardship.

“Everybody who comes through here is going to learn about this building as much as our ranches,” said Melissa Bookhout, Secretary/Treasurer and North Texas Education Director for the Dixon Water Foundations. “We feel very privileged to be a part of this building.”

Corey Squire, Sustainability Coordinator at Lake|Flato Architects lead the tour and presentation of the Pavilion and highlighted some of the milestones the building overcame to move closer to Living Building status. Squire described, in more detail, three of the seven imperatives of the Living Building Challenge that the architect focuses on: Water, Materials and Energy.

For example, as a part of the certification process, the Architect had to tabulate how much water the Pavilion used monthly. In the following video, Squire goes into detail about measuring the Pavilion’s water usage:

The biggest unknown in the Challenge was the Materials Petal, which required more than 500 hours of research, Squire said. As a result of this research, the architect now holds a database of materials that can be used on future Living Building projects. This materials matrix is downloadable and available to the public and those seeking to take on similar built projects.

Focusing on wood specifically, the Challenge requires all wood to be Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, except if it is salvaged material. All the wood used in the Pavilion is salvaged Sinker Pine from Louisiana, and creates the structure that houses the herbarium, restrooms, kitchen and joining education pavilion, which acts as the central gathering room.

Inside the education pavilion, large rotating doors allow and discontinue wind flow throughout the space. As I stood in the room, I felt the 65-degree breeze come in when the doors were open, and the temperature rise slightly when they were closed.

“The main strategy for this room is that it really transforms from summer to winter,” Squire said. “Just by opening the doors and windows you can completely transform the space.”

With features such as solar panels and an east-to-west layout that promotes seasonal wind flow, the Pavilion fulfilled the Living Building Challenge™ requirement of generating all energy on site. Within the last year alone, the Pavilion generated 50 percent more energy than it used.

Toward the end of the tour, Squire pointed out one important note: “You can’t do a Living Building Challenge without the support of the owners,” he said.

Pavilion caretakers Tom Bookhout and his wife Melissa Bookhout adopted a life of sustainable farming and education, which Tom said has altered his outlook on life.

“It change my whole paradigm of thinking,” he said. “You have to think about how you’re living.”

All in all, I think the tour was incredibly educational and clearly demonstrated that Living Buildings are a possibility in Texas. I’m looking forward to when other Texas architects and designers create spaces that show they are willing and ready to step up to the Challenge.


Living Building Challenge 3.0 (pdf)

Lake | Flato: Josey Pavilion Brochure

The Dogrun: the Value of Transparency (blog post)

The Dallas Coloring Book Experiment

The Dallas Coloring Book Experiment

To design a place with consideration, the design allows some things to be left to chance. Lines and edges are created that can encourage subtle adaptations. Instead of deciding every experience, there are moments for the unexpected. A designed landscape is an interpretation of a place that can be offered back to its community to be adopted as their own, and to be reinterpreted through lives and stories. In a dramatic shift of scales, a designed landscape is almost like the drawn black lines of a coloring book; it beckons to be altered and re-imagined by those who confront it with pens and pencils.

On September 6, 2015, Outsider Gwendolyn McGinn, and her partner, Isaac Cohen of buildingcommunityWORKSHOP, debuted The Dallas Coloring Book Experiment at the first Dallas Zine Party.  

The Dallas Coloring Book Experiment is a series of coloring books. They contain a collection of drawings which present different interpretations of the city. Each edition of the coloring book takes a slightly different approach to what “coloring book” means with drawings that are meant to be interacted with, colored, cut, and reimagined. Part coloring book, part interpretation of a city, part collected histories of a place.

TDCBE is an experiment in alternate ways of engaging the city. Instead of drawing projected futures, TDCBE presents line drawings of the people and places that form the city. Collections of street corners, sidewalks, and signs begin to form a visual documentation of vernacular structures of the city. Places that we see everyday, are illustrated and layered to present the memories of a place instead of a perfectly drawn architectural record of a place.

By seeking drawings from many artists and designers, The Dallas Coloring Book Experiment begins to form a collective story of Dallas created by those who inhabit it. The act of drawing and coloring one’s own city begins to form conversations of what the city is, and how else it might be imagined. The act of drawing the city presents an appreciation of the places where lives are lived and stories are told. While Reunion Tower and other iconic emblems of Dallas might tell the story of Dallas to some, its sidewalks and bus stops have deep stories of their own. 

The first series of The Dallas Coloring Book Experiment included drawings from several Outsiders. A selection of their drawings are included below. As a studio there are times for serious critical engagement, and times to playfully express the world around us. Through lines we can depicts unfinished places, and share them for others to make into their own.