Saving our environment and construction don’t typically go hand in hand, but for architect David Corban, one of Gulfshore Life Magazine’s Men of the Year, it’s a perfect mix.
“My father is a retired forest ranger, so… just having a real respect for the natural environment,” Corban said.
His father’s mark is benefiting all of us through Corban’s approach to buildings.
“Buildings are one of the largest users of fossil fuels in the world,” Corban said.
That’s why Corban conceives every project to make it fit the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.
“It has to do with using recycled and rapidly renewable materials,” Corban said. “And then also energy conservation.”
One of his current projects incorporates a window large enough to let natural light illuminate an office space while also using glass that keeps heat out and the air conditioning bill low. That outside feel has other benefits for the people inside.
“Architecture can positively impact people’s lives by the way we design it,” Corban said.
He’s known for projects like Celebration Park in Naples, but he also does a lot of building for non-profits like Grace Place, which took eight years.
“I think it’s more fulfilling for us to do work that positively influences those that might not otherwise get to be in a nice building,” Corban said.
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The Environmentalist Architect
If you were to picture a nonprofit human-service organization’s building, you might conjure the image of a rather humdrum, budget-conscious complex. We wouldn’t fault you for that, but we’d point out that you certainly don’t know architect David Corban of Naples, who has created stunning spaces (fiscally responsible ones, of course) that honor nonprofit organizations’ missions, staffs and, critically, their clients.
Take Grace Place for Children & Families in Golden Gate and its contemporary facade and airy classrooms. “A well-designed school makes students pay more attention, and it makes teachers enjoy their day more,” he says. Or the Shelter for Abused Women & Children’s new Shelly Stayer Shelter, where Corban eschewed institutional-feeling hallways for apartment “pods” that give women a greater sense of ownership and the warmth of home.
His philosophy has nonprofits knocking at his door. Other clients include the Holocaust Museum & Cohen Education Center, Catholic Charities’ Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center and Friends of Fakahatchee, which contracted Corban to make their longtime dream for a new boardwalk and interpretation center come true.
“I think architects can help with improving the social good,” Corban says. “I think we owe it to (nonprofits and their clients) to give them our best effort—to give them the best space we can provide.”
He’s done plenty of commercial work, too, including the acclaimed Celebration Park, a waterfront bar and food truck venue, for which he received the coveted Honor Award of Excellence in the New Work category from the American Institute of Architects Florida chapter earlier this year.
Regardless of project type, environmental consciousness pervades Corban’s work. Grace Place is the first LEED-certified campus in Collier County; the under-construction Lutgert Professional Center is being built to LEED standards as well. Corban’s own self-designed home on Halderman Creek is considered one of the county’s greenest and was listed among the “top 100 buildings built in Florida in the past 100 years” by the AIA. “Buildings are right up there with transportation and industry as the biggest burners of fossil fuels,” Corban says. “Architects have a huge responsibility to be part of the solution for climate change.”
By Jennifer Reed, Gulfshore Life