15 August 2011

Zesto Design Includes Bird Hazards

The design for a new Zesto in north downtown Omaha includes design features which are known to be hazardous to migratory birds.

A courtesy image shows basically a glass exterior with separated by brick columns for one portion of the structure, apparently on the northeast corner. The glass extends for more than one floor. There is also the exterior vegetation which will attract birds. The trees are placed at just the right distance to cause reflections in the glass and which have been repeatedly shown to cause bird strikes. Also, having green foliage (i.e., trees) visible "through the glass" will confuse birds which would think they could fly directly from one to the other. But there will be glass panes in the way.

There have been hundreds of bird strikes in this vicinity, including several along the street where this building is to be constructed.

It is quite ironic that will other buildings have been required to alter their facade to reduce bird strikes, Omaha architects continue to design and promote structures will features that are known hazards.

The Zesto building does not appear to be a structure that will be bird-friendly. And thus it will not meet the criteria to be a "green building."

The building is expected to open in March, just in time for spring bird migration.

The same architectural firm that designed this building, also designed the Slowdown complex, where bird-strikes have been documented. They were also the firm that added the north glass facade to Criss Library, and which is now a place of danger to migratory birds, as their lifeless carcasses have been found in the garden. The firms notes the glass with provides "an abundance of natural light" as a special feature of the building.

In a perverse sense, the recent construction of the parking lot complex to the west of this building - which removed much of the plant growth - has led to fewer strikes.

With ongoing construction of buildings with features known to be hazardous to migratory birds, it is difficult to make any progress in reducing their extent in metro Omaha.