GMP unveils art deco design for Eastman building
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | February 21,2013
Green Mountain Power unveiled the design for its Energy Innovation Center, located in the former Eastman’s building on Merchants Row.
Conceptually, Green Mountain Power’s Energy Innovation Center will be all about the future.
Physically, at least on the outside, it will be a link to the past.
Green Mountain Power unveiled the design for the center, located in the former Eastman’s building on Merchants Row, after winning approval from the city’s Architectural Review Board, which is charged with maintaining downtown Rutland’s historic character.
“We had to respect the history of the building, the way it looked,” said Steve Costello, the utility’s vice president of generation and energy innovation. “The art deco style — we had to stay within the framework of that style.”
The plan will maintain or restore art deco features on the facade, adding a revolving door and a stylistically consistent sign. The adjoining storefront will have the same look.
“The building to the left didn’t have any historical charm or character,” Costello said. “We’re trying to tie them together.”
The sign, located in between, also serves to integrate the buildings while accentuating the art deco style.
“If you go over and look at it, it’s a very plain building in a lot of ways right now,” Costello said. “It really is going to be something special, I think, and a great addition to the downtown.”
Costello said GMP will operate much of the building on direct current or DC power — which lost out to alternating current (AC) in the battle between Thomas Edison and Nicola Tesla over how to electrify America.
“DC, we think, has potential to be much more effective and lower-cost,” Costello said. “Now a lot of people are starting to think DC might be better for a lot of functions. ... We expect to run our lights and some of our systems with DC.”
Heat will come from air-source heat pumps. The roof will hold a solar array and the utility will experiment in energy storage, trying to bank power from the rooftop for use when the sun isn’t shining.
Costello said it was too early to discuss the displays for the museum area planned for the front of the building, but that the utility plans to take full advantage of the display windows
Costello said GMP expects to get the final city building permit in seven to 10 days and is on track to begin construction in March, following completion of asbestos remediation, and open the building in October.