Sunset Magazine National Editorial Offices, Menlo Park, California (1985)
The 40,000 square foot new office building--"Willow West"--designed by Dr. Aitken in association with Hoover Associates Architects, Palo Alto, California, is a courtyard office building designed for daylighting and natural environmental thermal conditioning. Daylight was reflected under the generous overhangs to the interior ceilings from light colored gravel in the courtyard, and light colored paving bricks on the first and second floor walkways. Thermal cooling was derived from a direct ground-water well system, the first building in California to utilize direct groundwater coupling for thermal purposes. Performance of the building is between 16,000 and 20,000 Btu/square foot/year for all heating, cooling, lighting , and parasitic energy requirements, leading Amory Lovins to refer to this building in the late 80's as "the most energy efficient building in California." The two-well cooling system, which cost only $18,000 including pumps and piping, compared to the $55,000 budget for a chiller-powered cooling system, enabled the extra costs for better glass, lighting systems and lighting controls all to be absorbed within the initial total budget, so a 70% reduction in energy use was achieved at no extra cost.