Historic Green

In the heart of Boulder City, the Bureau of Reclamation is building an office facility that promises to add another grace note to the city’s old-school urban fabric.

When complete this September, the $14.8 million building will merge modern green design with a historic sensibility. Set in the “viewshed” of Boulder City’s historic district, the structure had to harmonize with the town’s Depression-era urbanism. Renderings suggest the building is trying to echo the clean, symmetrical lines of the Bureau’s historic 1932 headquarters building nearby, a mix of Spanish colonial and Italian Renaissance revival.

Sustainability was “one of the major goals from the beginning,” says Terri Saumier, a project manager with the Bureau. The Bureau built according to its own standards system, similar to the better-known LEED program administered by the U.S. Green Building Council, though its water and energy conservation goals are stricter.

Las Vegas firm Tate Snyder Kimsey designed the building, which will generate 90 percent of its domestic hot water through on-site solar heaters. The structure will also save water by using recovered cooling-tower condensation and harvested rainwater for everything from toilets to outdoor irrigation.

In addition, the new facility will have plenty of natural light filtered through high-efficiency glass. It will also employ cutting-edge heating and cooling systems. The coup de grâce? A solar farm that will generate about 62 percent of the building’s electricity.

The building is rising on a hill near the intersection of Nevada Way and U.S. Highway 93, to the northeast of an Albertsons. The design connects a pair of long two-story rectangular forms, parallel to one another, and is punctuated with large high-efficiency windows and steeply angled roofs. Workers should get plenty of natural light—saving both energy and dollars.

The building may crib from the pages of history, but it will be modern to the core—a skillful combination of low-key finesse and cutting-edge environmental awareness.