A New Benchmark for Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability

A3C is thrilled to have been selected as the winner of the 2018 AIA Huron Valley Honor Award in the Unbuilt project category for our design of Sun Baths. They say home is where your heart is, and A3C put a lot of our hearts into this Sun Baths design for our hometown.

The Project: Our goal for the project was to provide downtown Ann Arbor with a new, sustainable environment in which to heal and connect with each other through a Net Zero Energy community bath house. For centuries, people have viewed water sources as places for relaxation and gathering – just think about Roman bath houses, a summer lakeshore, or a hot tub in winter. The interior was designed to include a mixture of common bath and sauna areas, smaller private bath spaces, and areas for other relaxation practices such as meditation. The Main Waters area could accommodate 80 bathers rotating through hot and cold pools and rest. Private spa areas would provide options for individuals and smaller groups.

But, beyond being restorative for its visitors, Sun Baths aimed to be restorative for its environment. The project incorporated a 100,000 kWh solar array, reclaimed wood and stone materials, a rain garden, rainwater detention, and a 50,000 gallon reservoir for energy storage. The design aimed to achieve LEED V4 Platinum Certification and Living Building Challenge Petal Certification with the building generating 5% more energy than it would consume and using radically less water than comparable spaces.

Net Zero Building Rendering
Solar Array Design
Bath House Rendering
Net Zero Bath House Design

It’s Legacy: While Sun Baths will not be constructed in this form, the research done and the governmental agencies engaged by the design team created a path that will make the journey easier for the next Net Zero Energy building in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County. For instance, as a part of this project, the design team reached out to MDEQ to serve as a pilot project in reusing condensate and rainwater treatment in the pools/spas. Also, because of Sun Baths’ discussions with Washtenaw County and the City of Ann Arbor, these entities now review gray water systems with the same criteria.

Moving Forward: At A3C, we’ll be working on a new concept for Sun Baths and the Kerrytown block it will occupy in the future. If you are looking to start on a green renovation or build a new space that will be environmentally restorative, check out some of the sustainable project case studies in our portfolio, and contact us to learn how our research and lessons learned on Sun Baths can be put to use on your project.

Our Portfolio
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