MSR Design’s 510 Marquette studio becomes the first Minnesota project to achieve Living Building Challenge Petal Certification

MSR Design’s new studio is designed to leave as small an impact on the environment as possible and to support human health and well-being.

MSR Design’s 510 Marquette studio project has earned Living Building Challenge (LBC) 3.1 Petal Certification through the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) for the materials, equity, and beauty petals. The first project in Minnesota to receive LBC Petal Certification, the studio is designed to leave as small an impact on the environment as possible and to support human health and well-being. A rigorous green building certification program and sustainable design framework that visualizes the ideal for the built environment, LBC is organized into seven performance areas called petals. Each petal is further sub-divided into imperatives, which address specific issues through detailed requirements. All of the LBC certifications are based on 12 months of actual performance, rather than design predictions.

Describing the design process guiding the project, MSR Design project manager and senior associate Rhys MacPherson says, “Our new studio home represents new collaborative ways of thinking, a deeper level of commitment to human health and well-being, and an interconnected village approach to innovation and imagining a new future for all of us.”

Materials Petal
Achieving the materials petal required meeting the ILFI Red List free, embodied carbon footprint, responsible industry advocacy, living economy sourcing, and net positive waste imperatives, among others. The materials palette builds on existing elements in the space: traces of historic travertine floors, brick walls and piers along the exterior, and fireproofing-clad columns and ceiling structure. To reduce the carbon footprint, the design team created a minimal palette of intervening materials. In the year leading up to the project, we developed a new set of materials library entry criteria and developed a guide to share our goals with product reps. Using the Red List and other expert guidance, our entry criteria guide, which can be requested on our Generative Impacts web page, requires  that all products on our shelves carry transparency documentation and are free of Red List chemicals.

Equity Petal
Examples of the imperatives required to meet for the equity petal include human scale + humane places, universal access to nature + place, equitable investment, and Just organization participation. Equitable access to daylight and amenities drives the spatial organization, with a central black box that contains acoustically private spaces for focus and collaboration. MSR Design is the only Minnesota architecture firm to have a Just 2.0 label. Participating in the program helps us nurture a culture that values diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Beauty Petal
Examples of the required beauty petal imperatives include beauty + spirit and inspiration + education. As with MSR Design’s other transformative adaptive reuse projects, the studio’s beauty arises from an authentic continuity between the space’s history and future. We commissioned an art installation for the front area of the studio. The selected artist Alexandra Peyton-Levine found inspiration in the materials story of the space, harvesting construction waste to interweave with dried flowers and foliage for her biophilic sculpture.

“In the design of our new studio, we sought to demonstrate that design excellence is both performative and beautiful,” says MSR Design CEO Traci Lesneski. “Achieving petal certification for our own workplace represents our firm’s commitment to creating a just, sustainable world through our practice and projects and the leadership we seek to exemplify in our profession.”

Check out the full case study on the ILFI website here.

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