- The Washington Times - Monday, June 13, 2005

Tower Cos. last night announced the biggest “green project” in its 58-year history as a Washington-area real estate developer.

The $250 million, 600,000-square-foot, mixed-use complex in Rockville will include a nine-story office building with principles of Vedic architecture, an Asian concept that focuses on making buildings conform with nature.

Called Tower II, the 200,000-square-foot structure will be the world’s largest Vedic green office building and cost $72 million, according to the North Bethesda company.

“Green buildings” are designed to be environmentally friendly with nontoxic materials and energy-efficient technologies.

Typically, Vedic buildings include an open space in the middle, an orientation toward the rising sun in the east and a surrounding garden area. Mathematical formulas used in the design are supposed to ensure symmetry with nature.

Vedic means knowledge in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit. The architectural style was introduced to the United States about 10 years ago by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Indian teacher of transcendental meditation. It is not related to yoga.

Indian architects he sponsored demonstrated Vedic architecture at a series of conferences, some of which were attended by Jonathan Lipman, a consultant on Tower II.

“In traditional architecture we use engineering principles and principles from art and aesthetics,”Mr. Lipman said. “We’re very good at those things. Beyond beauty and engineering, architecture should be able to create influences.”

Vedic architecture seeks to influence people by promoting health and well-being, he said.

“These principles have never been brought to the corporate world,” said Jeffrey Abramson, partner in the Tower Cos., the Washington area’s largest developer of green buildings. “There are over $250 million of Vedic homes in the United States, but it has never been done in an office building of this size.”

Whether Vedic architecture is a cutting-edge trend or simply a fad remains to be seen.

“I don’t think we can predict that at this time,” said Julia Neubauer, spokeswoman for the National Building Museum. “We’re also still learning about Vedic architecture.”

Tower Cos. announced the “Tower Oaks” project at an educational forum sponsored by the museum last night on Vedic architecture for which at least 130 people registered.

Joining Tower in funding the development is Lerner Enterprises, another of the Washington area’s biggest real estate developers. Construction is scheduled to begin this winter and be completed in 2007.

So far, most Vedic buildings in the United States have been private homes and small businesses.

Richard Bialosky, one of the speakers at the National Building Museum presentation last night, described Vedic architecture as “just ancient principles of orientation and placement that are really independent of style.” He is designing a 104-unit residential village in Vero Beach, Fla., using Vedic architecture.

The Tower II building will be the centerpiece of the Tower Oaks complex on 11 acres along the Interstate 270 corridor on Tower Oaks Boulevard. The complex will include a Marriott Renaissance hotel, a spa and 98 condominiums.

In addition to seeking other tenants, the Tower Cos. plans to move its headquarters into the Tower II building from its current location in North Bethesda.

The other tenants are expected to be the type of biotechnology and financial services companies found along the I-270 corridor.

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