Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design

Architect: Miller Hull Partnership

in collaboration with Lord Aeck Sargent

Owner: Georgia Institute of Technology

Location: Atlanta

As the first fully certified living building in the Southeast United States, the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design sets a bar for sustainability, proving that buildings in challenging climates can achieve regenerative design. Located just outside of Atlanta’s heart on Georgia Tech’s campus, the project originated with Diana Blank, the founder of the Kendeda Fund, who dreamed of a healthier city.

The Kendeda Fund, a longtime supporter of the Living Building Challenge’s mission, needed a willing partner for its building. That search led them to Georgia Tech and an ambitious journey that began with a $30 million grant in 2015. Both organizations agreed that the project's primary outcome would be a positive transformation of the design, engineering, and construction industry.

The building’s overarching design hinges on a tight envelope and a modern reinterpretation of the porch vernacular that supports passive cooling, solar harvesting, and rainwater capture. The team began its efforts by optimizing the program and efficiently using the space, including placing outdoor classrooms on the building’s regenerative porch and an outdoor lab on its roof. Combined, they offer more than 21,000-square-feet of space for learning and socialization. After one year of operation, the building and the school have realized immense savings as the building’s net-positive systems generate no energy or water bills.

The regenerative porch is the building’s true sustainable heart, and it integrates myriad strategies to adhere to the Living Building Challenge and support the fund’s high-performance goals. A photovoltaic canopy comprising more than 900 panels allows the building to meet 105% of its power needs. Excess supply is routed to other buildings on campus.

As the largest higher education building to achieve Living Building certification, it also showcases didactic architecture in action. The building is intended to serve as a learning lab and incubator for a wide range of students, and, much like its inner workings, it serves more than one purpose. It is at once a cutting-edge facility for learning and exploration as well as a facility that contributes to the surrounding environment.

Sustainable architecture has made significant leaps in the past decade and has demonstrated that regenerative design is both imperative and beautiful. This new building offers an iconic design that is equally aspirational and reflective of the partnership’s values.

Additional information

Engineer – Civil: Long Engineering

Engineer – Water and Ecology: Biohabitats

Architect – Landscape: Andropogon Associates, Ltd.

Architect – Prime: Lord Aeck Sargent

Architect – Design and Living Building Challenge: The Miller Hull Partnership

Design – Interiors: Lord Aeck Sargent

Engineer – Structural: Uzun + Case

Engineer – MEP (Design): PAE

Engineer – MEP (Prime): Newcomb & Boyd Consultants and Engineers

Biophilic Consultant - Sonja Bochart Wellbeing+Design


Susan Blomquist, AIA, Chair, Payette, Boston

L. William Zahner, Zahner, Kansas City, Mo.

Ana Astiazaran, AIAS, University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz.

Dominique Hawkins, FAIA, Preservation Design Partnership, LLC, Philadelphia

Eddie Jones, FAIA, Jones Studio, Tempe, Ariz.

Gia Mainiero, AIA, Dattner Architects, New York

Pierre Roberson, AIA, AECOM, Detroit

Gail Kubik, Assoc. AIA, Finegold Alexander Architects, Salem, Mass.

Heather Young, AIA, Heather Young Architects, Palo Alto, Calif.

Image credits


Jonathan Hillyer


Greg Willett


Greg Willett


Jonathan Hillyer


Jonathan Hillyer