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What is a Considerate Building?

Written by Karen Marley
Imagery by Hotel Sklyer

When it comes to our shelters, Americans embrace creativity and comfort. We seek styles that reflect our independent spirits. The cost? Our households are responsible for 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions but represent just over four percent of the global population. Would constructing a building that is less greedy and more considerate of its neighbors sacrifice style and luxury? Hotel Skyler, located in Syracuse, New York, proves that a green building is an ultimate model of innovative design and stylishly good taste that provides a healthy, restful, and truly beautiful environment.
    Hotel Skyler is only the third hotel that has received the coveted platinum designation from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™.  This is a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. Here’s how they did it.

Reduce, Reuse, Appreciate
Built in 1922, the historically rich structure originally housed Temple Adath Yeshurun, then later the Salt City Center for the Performing Arts. The central hall was a vast space containing a stage with large steel beams that went the length of the building on either side. Developer Norm Swanson added two new floors, to create 58 rooms and two lofts. Swanson turned to Charity Buchika of Elan Interiors to create a timeless, fresh look. All the rooms, many being unique, one-of-a-kind spaces, were meticulously created to strike a three-way balance among a sleek modern design with industrial elements, that respected the building’s history and felt comfortable and welcoming.
    Original Palladian windows, some set in barrel ceilings, were all retained. Buchika painted the steel beams and left them exposed to create a raw frame for the windows. Original enormous corbels in the hallways were also kept. 
    The rooms are sleek and minimalistic. In contrast, the main lobby is rich with color from saved, stained glass windows from St. John’s Church in Oswego. The bar is reclaimed wood from a defunct factory. Old timbers were rebuilt to the project’s specifications.

Healthy Style, Socially Graceful
Indoor air quality is equally important. Paint and carpeting are free
from volatile organic compounds. Local suppliers were preferred. Non-local suppliers were vetted for green practices. Tiles, counter-tops, carpeting, padding – everything has a specified percentage of recycled content. Internal features include a geothermal heat pump and automated smart controls for temperature and lighting.
    Proceeds from the two loft, or “treehouse” rooms support the Golisano Children’s Hospital. Outfitted with tree-shaped bedposts the lofts offer a whimsical flavor.
    The magnificence of Hotel Skyler is the result of equal devotion to luxury, style and environmental responsibility. Buchika acknowledges the challenge, “I had to coordinate everything with the LEED guidelines. We had to do a lot of our own research to verify that our selections were correct. But it was immensely satisfying.”

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