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PROVIDENCE, RI-Eagerly embracing the sustainability design movement, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is aiming for a Silver LEED certificate for its new headquarters, now under construction in the city’s Downtown district. The 13-story, 327,000-sf building is slated for completion late next year.

Green-building elements that BCBSRI is hoping will win the Silver designation, include insulated glass curtain walls that will allow abundant daylight into the offices and enable sensors to dim or turn off perimeter lighting. Architect Symmes Maini & McKee Associates of Boston is also incorporating two vegetated roofs to reduce heat gain and manage storm water runoff that will then help cool equipment in the building’s data center, while the latest technology is being used for heating, cooling and water conservation in the mechanical systems selected. In addition, materials for construction, furniture and finishes are coming from regional sources and meet other criteria as environmentally sensitive.

BCBSRI officials also cite an internal green education program that will accentuate the group’s focus on health and wellness. Besides a fitness center, the building will feature an operable glass wall allowing the dining space to be opened up to an adjacent park in warm weather, and preferred parking will be available for employees with hybrid cars. Officials also note that the building will be close to a commuter rail station, and bike racks will be available to encourage a healthy alternative to driving. According to BCBSRI VP Tom Bovis, “there has been extraordinarily positive response from our employees” over the design and location of the headquarters, which is a result of four years of planning between the company and SMMA’s design team. The contractor is Dimeo Construction.

Now the largest construction project in Rhode Island, the BCBSRI headquarters is being developed at Waterplace Park in the city’s emerging Capital Center district. The parcel at Exchange Place and Finance Way is adjacent to two new residential towers and atop an underground garage and retail shops being built by Intercontinental Real Estate Corp. of Boston. SMMA architect Mark Spaulding says he believes the headquarters will emerge as “a welcome landmark on the skyline of Downtown Providence,” and explains it is designed to maximize view corridors between buildings at Waterplace Park. Also, Spaulding says, “the curved glass facades of the tower will create a changeable image, depending on reflections and daylight conditions.”

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