Wednesday, April 2, 2008

ASHA dedicates new green building in Rockville

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association had outgrown headquarters in North Bethesda

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Chris Rossi⁄The Gazette
Arlene Pietranton, executive director of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, addressed the crowd gathered for the dedication ceremony of the association’s new building on Research Boulevard in Rockville.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association last week celebrated its new 130,000-square-foot national headquarters on Research Boulevard in Rockville, which the architect said is the perfect location for the organization.

‘‘Research and this organization are synonymous,” said Joseph Boggs of Boggs & Partners Architects, who designed the $48 million building.

Boggs told the crowd of about 300 people at the dedication ceremony on Thursday that he was inspired by the association of more than 130,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists and speech, language and hearing scientists. ASHA is a national professional, scientific and credentialing association.

Boggs said the architects kept the mission of ASHA in mind while designing the building. The concave piece above the main entrance means ‘‘we’re listening,” he said.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association officials expressed pleasure at the design.

‘‘Our association has a vision of making effective communication a human right to have access and achievement by all,” Arlene Pietranton, ASHA executive director, said after the event. ‘‘He took communication to heart and reflected that in the design.”

Brenda Cohen, a speech pathologist from Florida, said she was also impressed by Boggs’ design.

‘‘We all chose to become who we are to help people. It’s not a job, it’s a lifetime commitment,” Cohen said. ‘‘He put all of that into this building.”

ASHA touts itself as the first trade association of its kind in the state to construct a green building with elements to achieve Silver designation, according to the U.S. Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

Features of the environmentally friendly, five-story building at 2200 Research Blvd. include large windows, which let in more natural light and reduce the amount of energy used by artificial light, and a white-colored roof, which reduces cooling costs by absorbing less heat than a black roof. Additionally, condensation from the heating and cooling system is used for irrigation, dual-flush toilets and low-flow showers and sinks, reducing water costs, officials reported.

Much of the flooring throughout the building is made from recycled materials, such as the recycled rubber in the fitness rooms or the partially recycled carpeting. Even some artwork in the building was made of recycled scraps of metal.

Going green was the socially responsible thing to do and the right thing to do from a business standpoint, said Chuck Cochran, ASHA’s chief staff officer for operations.

‘‘Energy costs and the staff environment is better and we’ll reap the benefits of that over the years,” Cochran said.

The 250-employee organization moved to its new Rockville headquarters in December from its previous location at Rockville Pike and Strathmore Avenue in North Bethesda because of space constraints, ASHA officials said.

ASHA sold its former headquarters in 2005 to the Dallas-based homebuilder Centex, which plans to build 112 $1 million townhouses on the property adjacent to Strathmore Hall.