Date of Award
Master of Architecture
Architecture professionals discuss methods to create sustainable or "green" buildings. Professions agree that constructing buildings which are ecologically responsive to its local context and climate offer numerous benefits. With this, especially in today's economy; however, the benefits offer future advantages. This research will investigate sustainable ideas using local building materials that promote lower initial costs, yet foster design solutions, rooted in a regionalist approach. The subsequent architectural project will then incorporate these building materials and create building systems that respond to the Southern Illinois temperate but humid climate. To promote a distinct eco-regionalist style of architecture; methods and materials must be competitive with traditional practices, yet offer a more evident use of local products, as well as respect to the clients and builders' expenses and construction methods. This proposed sustainable method will come with a learning curve for the contractor, yet will offer a method that will sustain itself. The subsequent research will offer alternative methods of construction, built with local materials and responsive to the local climate and context, applicable to vernacular building practices promoting sustainability. The following will serve as a case study for the proposed alternative construction methods and materials. The Union County Soil and Water Conservation District plans to construct a complex known as the Abraham Lincoln Environmental Center on an area of 350 feet by 200 feet located northeast of Anna, Illinois. The environmental center is expected to have an exhibition area that would "show the history and development of "green" conservation work."1 The building will also house three different government agencies, Union County Soil and Water Conservation District, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Farm Service Agency. An added goal of the group is to link this project to the site of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debate, only a mile away. In addition, the facility is planned to include a scenic trail with educational stations in the natural area surrounding the complex. "Stations would include: an open theatre, a rain garden, a roof garden, a wetland, a hill prairie, an oak-savanna plain, a switch grass plantation, a watershed model, soil displays, environmental statistics for the area, an example of carbon footprint tracking and many others to be determined later."2 The overall goal of this architectural thesis project is to create the Abraham Lincoln Environmental Center in Anna, Illinois as a case study of architecture methods and materials that are responsive to the local climate and context. Another goal is to set an example for sustainability construction that is cost effective and will have a quality and meaning with its regional setting to both architectural professionals and clients. 1Union County Soil and Water Conservation District, Conservation World of Union County, (Anna: UCSWCD, 2008) 1-2. 2Ibid
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