Center of the Universe

It takes a lot of hard work to transform a vacant lot into a building that is the envy of the city. After years of hard work and a unique partnership, East Hills Council of Neighbors has done just that. The former polluted gas station site at the corner of Lake and Diamond now is home to one of the “greenest” buildings in Michigan and maybe the Mid-West. 

What started as a grassroots movement to remediate a vacant and polluted lot, turned into a public/private partnership that redeveloped a missing component of our community’s streetscape. This ten year grass roots effort has culminated as the East Hills Center of the Universe, a 7200 square foot retail development on the 1000 block of Lake Drive.

This project features:

Historic Context:

East Hills Center design follows the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for new construction in a historic district. The building was designed to keep the historic theme of the neighborhood. The surrounding business district lies within a historic district, but failed to capture the corner of Lake Drive and Diamond where the East Hills Center is located.

LEED-CS Pilot Project:

This project has been selected by the United States Green Building Council as a pilot project for the brand new LEED-Core and Shell certification. The core and exterior shell of the building are designed to conform to these new standards. This is one of the first projects of its type in the nation.

Brownfield Redevelopment:

The project site had become extremely polluted from its previous use as a gas station. Shell Oil cleaned up the site at a cost of more then $520,000.

Zero Stormwater Discharge Site:

The EHC project is a zero stormwater discharge site. Rainfall and runoff will be collected, retained, and filtered before releasing naturally to the environment on site.

Green Roof:

A vegetative roof garden will extend the roof structure lifecycle. The rainfall that falls on the roof will be collected, filtered, and released to water the plants and evaporate into the atmosphere. .

Rain Garden:

The runoff from the site will collect in a raingarden that will filter out pollutants and then release it to the environment cleaned and recharged.

Reduced Heat Island Effect:

By using the sun’s energy for the vegetative roof garden we are reducing the “Heat Island” effect. The reduction of reflecting the sun’s energy as waste heat back into the atmosphere helps to reduce global warming.

Environmental and Energy Demonstration Center:

The vegetative roof and the rain garden will be used as a teaching and demonstration tool on responsive environmental design. A weather station will allow for data collection on the performance of the green roof.

Passive Solar Design Strategies:

Several passive solar design strategies have been integrated into the EHC project. South facing glass with a canopy and light shelf combination is a major design element along the Lake Drive elevation. The canopy reduces the amount of direct solar heat gain while the light shelf reflects daylight into the occupant’s space. A thermally isolated concrete slab has also been incorporated into the design.

Pedestrian Friendly:

The EHC building was designed up to the sidewalk edge to make it friendly to pedestrian traffic. The building is contextual with the other businesses in the neighborhood.