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In Earthquake-Ravaged Haiti,
A Place to Call Home

William Jefferson Clinton Children's Center
Port-au-Prince, Haiti

“This green building is an amazing opportunity for Haiti. It’s a legacy we’re going to be leaving for the next generation.”

Gina Duncan
Executive Director, Foundation Enfant Jesus

A new orphanage and children’s center in Port-au-Prince will create a culturally relevant model of sustainable construction that can be replicated throughout the region.

HOK is the USGBC’s official design partner for Project Haiti, the replacement of an orphanage and children’s center that was severely damaged in the 2010 earthquake. In a country with no enforceable codes or functioning infrastructure, this design puts forward a net zero energy, water and waste facility that meets LEED Platinum standards.

An all-volunteer HOK team, including architects, landscape architects, lighting designers, sustainable experts and structural, mechanical and plumbing engineers, is tackling the challenge of bringing highly sustainable design to a developing country.

The design of the William Jefferson Clinton Children’s Center integrates biomimicry to create a locally attuned and responsive building solution. The building references a culturally significant keystone species, the kapok tree, both in the branching diagrid supports of the balcony system and the low emissivity, heat-shedding characteristics of its second skin. Protecting the building like tree bark, a bamboo “boundary layer” shields exterior walkways and vertical surfaces from direct sunlight while allowing for daylighting and natural ventilation. A roof garden acts as the building’s “foliage,” supporting the solar energy system and providing additional green space.

The net zero design uses passive and renewable strategies to support a safe, healthy environment for children, staff and future parents. The building systems are designed to provide independence from the city’s unreliable power grid, harnessing excess energy to power streetlights and public charging stations on the street.

To ensure a safe water supply, a closed-loop system collects, treats and stores water on-site. A water collection system on the roof funnels water into an underground cistern. Gray and black water are fed into a bioreactor, which filters and cleans it for reuse in landscaping.

To highlight Haiti’s rich artistic heritage, the design uses local materials and artwork, especially ironwork, murals and woodwork crafted by local artisans. Through this project, designers intend to educate local craftsmen on replicable, resilient construction techniques.

The main three-story, L-shaped structure envelops a central courtyard, the focal point of the orphanage’s social life. A separate tower contains training and office space. The kitchen and dining areas and corner stair tower provide refuge during hurricanes. In response to seismic risk, the design uses lightweight infill and contains a ground-level “safe zone” where occupants can gather in the event of an earthquake.

“Project Haiti would not succeed without HOK’s generous pro-bono support as project architect, and we are so very grateful for their ongoing dedication, expertise and passion for this project,” said Roger Limoges, vice president of organizational development and Project Haiti lead, USGBC. “HOK has already spent countless hours ensuring that Project Haiti will be an innovative, sustainable, LEED-certified example of hope for this region. With this most recent generous contribution of $50,000, they once again take us a step closer to completing this amazing project.”

NEWS

9 January 2014
“How Reverse Engineering Can Spur Design Innovation”
Fast Co.Exist 

6 February 2013
“Project Haiti’s Seeds of Hope”
USGBC

29 January 2013
“Urban Infrastructure: What Would Nature Do?”
Ensia

4 January 2013
“Will Biomimicry Offer a Way Forward, Post-Sandy?”
The New York Times

29 March 2012
“Safe Harbor”
Architectural Record

25 January 2012
“HOK Partners with USGBC on Design of Haiti Children’s Center”
Building Design + Construction

12 January 2012
“Two Years Later: Rebuilding a Resilient Future for Haiti”
Huffington Post

14 October 2012
“USGBC Secures Land for Haiti Orphanage”
GreenSource