The insider’s Green Building: LA architect
delivers the details on the building that’s
redefining Louisville

Dec 19 2010

It’s largely been back-of-the-book news in the conventional media, but The Green Building is creating a buzz internationally for Louisville – a buzz about something other than failing public schools and our celebration of a return to our industrial past.

Earlier this month, Gill Holland’s and Augusta Brown Holland’s The Green Building received LEED Platinum certification, the highest energy-efficiency rating from the Washington, DC-based U.S. Green Building Council.

The Green Building architect, Inglewood, Calif.-based form, environment, research (FER) studio LLC, sent Insider Louisville several megabytes of cool stuff explaining how TGB works. More stuff than we can post, but see below for what we could fit.

TGB is the second LEED Platinum-certified building in Kentucky, the first being the Visitors Center at the Berheim Arboretum and Research Forest in Clermont, Ky., just south of Louisville.

Last month, TGB was highlighted by “Re-Use Architecture,” a coffee table book by a German-based architecture expert and art historian Chris van Uffelen, a book listing the  100 best reuse projects from around the world.

TGB is a revolutionary building, as you can read below, courtesy of the Chicago architect that designed the renovation of the 115-year-old building.

But energy efficiency aside, TGB represents a revolutionary step forward for Louisville, and few locals seem to get it.

The Hollands’ 2007 purchase of the abandoned building at 732 E. Market St., then its transformation into TGB, accelerated a fitful renaissance for Louisville, a rebirth that began with the riverfront parks and continues with the revitalization of downtown and its environs.

Not to indulge in a pedantic rant, but Louisville is being tugged in two directions: back toward conventional thinking that –  to quote social media expert Jay Garmon – will make us the most cutting edge city of 1978, or toward a future of innovation.

The Hollands’ building represents a new epoch for East Market Street, which has been on a steady arch upward since the early 1990s when Billy Hertz, Tom Schnepf and Barbara Smith started buying property in the area and bringing in artists studios and art galleries.

In 2008, the Hollands and partners such as Tim Peters and his wife Lois Mateus, along with Louisville-born actor William Mapother, put up $5 million to buy out Wayside Christian Mission, just east of TGB.

I wrote the story about the deal for Business First, and I quoted Gill Holland saying that in three years, the area would be transformed.

It took two.

At the end of 2010, what Holland dubbed “NuLu” is chock-a-block with stores and galleries. Four new restaurants are in the works, all scheduled to open by next May.

So for the moment, let’s take a look at the future, or more precisely, where future technology enhances our architectural heritage.

From form, environment, research (FER) studio:

The Green Building is 10,175 ft2 mixed-use commercial building housing a gallery, event space, offices, tenant office spaces, conference room, and separate tenant restaurant space.  Completed in the fall of 2008 and located in the East Market district of Louisville, a federally classified distressed area at the time of purchase and construction,

Highlights of The Green Building’s sustainable features include:

• Water–efficiency: No city water is used by The Green Building’s xeriscape landscaping. Storm water is either absorbed by the green roof, collected in three large rain barrels, or
directed into a rain garden, where the toxins are removed by plant material before reentering the ground water system.

• Energy-efficiency – The Green Building saves 30,000 pounds of CO2 a month, more than enough to offset the carbon footprint of all its employees’ vehicles. Thanks to 81 solar panels, a 1,100 gallon ice storage system, and twelve geothermal wells 225 feet underneath the building, The Green Building’s total off-grid energy efficiency is up to 68% and it outperforms Kentucky energy codes by up to 65%

• Re-used Material – In addition to saving the original mortar shell of the structure, The Green Building team re-used much of the material from the original building.  For example, structural wood from the original building was re-milled into finished flooring and furniture. Bricks from the original building were carefully disassembled and re-used in other areas of
the remodel.

• Recycled Material – The Green Building includes a high percentage of recycled materials, including 100% of the flooring, 70% of the windows, and 80% of the insulation, made from recycled blue jeans.  The team diverted 551 cubic yards (³cy²) of demo material from the landfill by donating to local salvage yards, construction companies, a nearby farm, and Habitat Restore for Habitat.

Future developments for The Green Building include a monthly open-air market featuring locally produced products, a recycling center, and electric car charging station.  Owners, Gill and Augusta Holland are also part owners in 16 other buildings they hope to make as sustainable as The Green Building in the coming years.

Project Architect: form, environment, research (FER) studio LLP,
General Contractor: Peters Construction,
Owner: Augusta & Gill Holland,

About (fer) studio
Founded in early 2002, form, environment, research, (FER) studio LLP, is an award winning architecture, interiors, landscape, and master planning design firm based in Los Angeles, CA.
Noted for its evocative aesthetic and eco-conscious design culture, (FER) studio operates under the direction of Principals, Christopher L. Mercier, AIA, and Douglas V. Pierson, AIA, LEED AP.

For more information, please visit

About The Green Building
The award-winning project, The Green Building in Louisville, KY opened in the Fall of 2008 in the East Market District, the heart of NuLu, Louisville’s arts district.  Renovation of the 115 year old
masonry structure, a former dry goods store, was commenced by owners Augusta and Gill Holland in spring 2007 when they decided to become the first commercial building in Louisville KY to go for
LEED Platinum certification.  Intent upon rescuing the building from decades of misuse, the project included resuscitating the structural masonry shell and infusing it with a modern core, including a 40-foot high lobby, expansive natural lighting, eco-friendly materials, and renewable energy systems, as well as extensive solar power, geothermal wells, and recycled denim insulation. For more
information, please visit

About GBCI
The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) provides third-party confirmation that specific criteria related to LEED building certification and LEED professional credentialing have been met.
To underscore this commitment, GBCI is undergoing the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accreditation process for personnel certification agencies complying with International
Organization for Standardization (ISO) Standard 17024. Early in 2009, GBCI assumed responsibility for administering the LEED building certification program for the more than 30,000
commercial projects seeking third-party verification of compliance with the industry’s leading green building rating system. For more information, please visit

Archived Articles

Related Topics