Search results for "sustainability"

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Storm's a Comin'

Offshore wind primed to proliferate in New England’s waters
Offshore wind power may finally be coming to the U.S. if recent developments are any indication. Relatively common in Europe, the technology is still rare on this side of the Atlantic, with just five turbines operating in U.S. waters. That may change, however, as several northeastern states have set offshore wind energy goals and have greenlit several key projects. Yale Climate Connections recently reported on potentially bright developments in the industry. The state governments of Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey have all put in place mandates that will require those states to draw a certain amount of their electricity from offshore wind farms as part of broader sustainability goals. Other New England states are pushing forward projects that would generate hundreds of megawatts of power (for reference the Hoover Dam generates approximately 2,000 megawatts). Connecticut and Rhode Island approved a 400-megawatt project, and smaller projects are coming to Long Island and Maryland. While offshore wind farms may finally be getting their moment, similar efforts seem to consistently get doomed from a wide range of opposing forces. The Navy opposes turbines on much of the West Coast. Conservationists have piped up against plans in the Great Lakes. Although New Jersey had created an offshore wind goal in 2010, the initiative sat dead under Governor Chris Christie, who was apparently not motivated to pursue such projects. NIMBY groups and the fishing industry have killed plans before, to say nothing of politicians who generally oppose any moves away from fossil fuels. Still, falling costs and gradually evolving attitudes on alternative energy may be finally tilting the political landscape in offshore wind's favor. If these New England projects come through, they may set a precedent for other developments across the country.
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Off the Rails

New York’s subway temperatures surge past 100 degrees
A study released by the nonprofit Regional Plan Association (RPA) last week found that temperatures in New York City’s busiest subway stations are soaring and that the average temperatures hover around 94.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Although temperatures climbed past 104 degrees at the Union Square station on 14th Street, solutions are stymied by the design of each station, aging infrastructure, and the trains themselves. The RPA surveyed 10 of the busiest stations in New York and found that the sweltering temperatures were exacerbated by the heatwaves that much of New York (and the world) have been experiencing this summer. The constantly late trains aren’t helping commuters either, as passengers have been forced to wait for longer periods of time on the platforms. Why exactly are these stations so hot? As the Village Voice explains, the city’s busiest stations are often its oldest and their design precludes centralized climate control; this is also the official reason given by the MTA. The trains themselves output a large amount of heat as well, both through their air conditioners as well as braking. Each full train weighs around 350 to 450 tons depending on the make and length, and the kinetic energy required to brake is converted to heat when a train stops at a station. The hottest stations surveyed were where trains idled the longest. The Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall stop in Tribeca was unsurprisingly featured as well, as the 6 train makes its last stop there then idles before departing on its uptown route. When WNYC surveyed 103 of New York’s stations during the July 2015 heatwave, the Brooklyn Bridge stop clocked in at 107 degrees. For its part, the MTA has pledged to keep the trains running more efficiently to reduce the time passengers have to wait on these overheated platforms. While the MTA tests new communication and signal technologies that could improve wait times and braking efficiency, New York City Transit Authority President Andy Byford has pledged that most of the subway system will use communications-based train control by 2030. Still, as the climate warms, these types of heat waves are only going to become more common, and the fixes required to keep the city’s subway stations tolerable are solutions that will require long-term investments on par with the MTA's other sustainability initiatives.
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Deconstructivist Architecture

Deconstruction a potential new source of jobs for struggling cities
A recent article by Stateline, a nonprofit news service that reports on state policy, says that deconstruction could be a viable source of jobs and building materials in cities with aging downtowns like Baltimore or Portland. The article follows Brick + Board and Details Deconstruction, two Baltimore nonprofits trying to create a viable business model out of taking apart derelict structures and reselling the materials for new construction projects around the country. The concept relies on the appeal of reclaimed materials, usually for rusticized finishes. Both groups also hire and train released convicts in the hopes of preparing them for other jobs in the construction industry. As the article describes, these and similar initiatives have encountered a tough road to success. It's much cheaper to demolish buildings, as opposed to taking them apart piece by piece, and many structures don't offer the kind of charming materials customers are looking for. Still, the idea has potential for cities that are struggling with both abandonment and unemployment. Rust belt cities like Detroit have hundreds of empty homes that are both eyesores and public safety hazards, and such cities have large populations of unskilled workers in need of employment. Deconstruction initiatives could kill two birds with one stone—the trick is just getting the financial side to work. For designers concerned with building waste and sustainability, groups like Brick + Board offer materials with positive social narratives and visual appeal. Check out the original article for more information on resources in your area.
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2019-2021

Architect Alan Jones named new RIBA President
Northern Irish architect Alan Jones will be the next president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Jones, who is currently RIBA vice-president of education and a senior lecturer at Queen's University Belfast where he runs his own practice, Alan Jones Architects, will take over from incumbent president Ben Derbyshire on September 1, 2019. Winning 52 percent of the vote (2,704 votes), Jones, in running for the title a second time, saw off Elsie Owusu and Philip Allsopp to become the 77th president of RIBA. In his campaign, Jones said he would "put architects first" and would look into holding a referendum on the institution's future.  This year's elections were notable for their controversy, particularly surrounding that of candidate Elsie Owusu. The founding member and the first chair of the Society of Black Architects was sent a "cease and desist" letter from RIBA, asking her to stop making "damaging public statements." The letter came after Owusu questioned the $230,000 salary of RIBA chief executive Alan Vallence at a presidential hustings. Jones, who was present, defended the salary saying that it had been compared to the earnings of CEOs at other charities by the RIBA Board (RIBA is a registered charity in the U.K.). Furthermore, in the build-up to the election, Owusu continued to criticize RIBA, accusing the institution of letting $1.4 million go missing in the project to refurbish its London headquarters at 76 Portland Place. All this as well came after a "death threat" email sent to Owusu in 2016 was leaked to the press in April. The email is believed to be a response to Owusu who said her failed attempt to become vice-president in 2015 was “tantamount to institutionalized racism.” Since coming second in this year's election, Owusu has reiterated her claims on RIBA's finances, calling on Jones to look into the situation. RIBA has denied any wrongdoing, citing that a Charity Commission investigation found no accountancy foul play.   Owusu heads-up her own firm, Elsie Owusu Architects and despite losing out on the presidency, was voted into being a RIBA Council Member this year. Philip Allsop is senior sustainability scientist with the Julie-Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, and is President of RIBA-USA. Alan Jones's statement:
I appreciate respect is not given lightly and must be earned. I am hugely grateful for the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Ben Derbyshire and past presidents, people who I have huge respect for. I wish to build on their successes. The RIBA is a fantastic organisation with great resources, particularly its staff who I am keen to support more than ever. As individuals and as an institution, we need to come together to make the most of our assets, and make the case for our profession. We need to gather evidence and realise a more significant role and position in business and society. We must focus more on the pertinent issues that will increase the quality of service we provide and the added value we can bring. We must reduce our overheads and the loss of colleagues and expertise as they leave our profession because of the economics of our situation. Talent is universal and opportunity into and upward through our profession must be too.
Jones will serve as RIBA President until September 2021.
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COTE Hanger

AIA to send delegation to Global Climate Action Summit
With buildings responsible for about 47 percent of electricity usage in the U.S., making buildings more efficient should be a top priority in combatting climate change. New York City has already pledged to retrofit its older buildings and slash CO2 emissions by 80 percent by 2050, but with the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, such action has been left to cities and states to undertake voluntarily. At the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco this September, businesses, investors, and local and state leaders from across the country will convene to discuss ways to decarbonize the economy and reach a carbon neutral U.S. by 2050. The AIA has announced that it will be sending a delegation headed by President Carl Elefante, FAIA, to represent architects at the summit and come back with a set of scalable best design practices. The AIA members attending will be part of the organization’s sustainability-oriented Committee on the Environment (COTE) and other climate change-related groups. The AIA will also be sponsoring two public events during the summit: Carbon Smart Building Day on September 11 and Climate Heritage Mobilization on September 12 and 13. The summit is meant to in part build momentum for COP24 in December, the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Still, even if radical decarbonization guidelines are agreed upon at the summit and adopted by the AIA and business leaders in attendance, such a shift likely wouldn’t be enough to reach the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s target of limiting global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celcius. The Paris Agreement and temperature targets are only reachable if the world were to produce negative emissions and sequester CO2 on a massive scale, a technology that’s still several years away. Still, the AIA has pledged to continue pursuing its sustainability and environmental health goals, as seen in its recent call for a blanket ban on asbestos in building products after the fracas last week.
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Rock on London, Rock on Chicago

The Rock ’N’ Roll McDonald’s replacement opens in Chicago
Eight months after Chicago’s iconic Rock ’N’ Roll McDonald’s was torn down (likely to the chagrin of the late Wesley Willis, who immortalized the building in song), the Ross Barney Architects-designed replacement has opened. The new building in River North bucks the campy, retro look of the original 1983 building, which was hemmed in by golden arches on either side. Instead, Chicago native Carol Ross Barney has designed the flagship McDonald’s with an eye towards sustainability and airiness as part of the company’s McDonald’s of the Future rebranding. The corporate offices have paid for the entire project instead of the local franchisee as part of a wide-ranging renovation scheme, including the installation of self-ordering kiosks, that will affect locations across the U.S. through 2020. Carol Ross Barney’s design wraps an industrial steel-and-solar-panel canvas around the central building, recalling Renzo Piano’s most recent institutional projects. The new McDonald’s is only 19,000 square feet and a single story, which is 20 percent more compact than its predecessor, but the ceiling soars to 27 feet high. Cross-laminated timber was used for the building’s roof and was left exposed on the underside. McDonald’s is heavily touting the project’s sustainability bonafides. Carol Ross Barney also designed the building’s HVAC system and kitchen to use less electricity, and a McDonald’s representative claims that the new store uses 50 percent less energy than its rock and rolling forbearer. The serrated solar pergola shades the plaza around the entrances and is expected to generate up to 60 percent of the building’s electricity needs. Plants have been integrated throughout the project site as well as inside of the building, and diners can eat under cascading green walls suspended from the ceiling. A sunken green roof in the middle of the restaurant provides guests with views of the apple trees, arugula, broccoli, kale, and native grasses being grown on the building’s exterior; McDonald’s has said that over 20,000 square feet of the site is landscaped. It’s more metal than rock and roll, but as of yesterday Chicagoans can once again get their burger fix in River North. As of August 8, the McDonalds will be open 24/7.
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Reservoir Dogs

The hidden story of water’s importance to Texas urbanism
As I drive down into the future lakebed, the terrain on either side of the gravel road becomes haggard and unkempt. Signs of the area’s past as farm and ranchland are evident, but shrubs and gnarled trees have grown high to create a deserted, post-apocalyptic landscape. This is the future site of Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir, a 16,600-acre lake soon to be constructed in rural Fannin County that will provide water to the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD), serving Dallas suburbs in Collin, Dallas, Kaufman, Rockwall, and Hunt Counties. This lake recently received its permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, making it the first major reservoir in Texas since Lake Gilmer was constructed in 1999. Reservoirs provide the majority of Texas’s drinking water. Texas has been building reservoirs since 1893 (Lake Austin), with the majority created in the 1940s through the 1960s. There are currently 188 in the state, according to the Texas State Historical Association. In the Dallas area, with the limited availability of river water and an aquifer too low to be practical on a large scale, reservoirs have been the main strategy for providing water to a growing region. During a recent visit to Bonham, the Fannin County seat and nearest town to the proposed lake, a passive acceptance of the forthcoming project was evident among a number of residents. There are those who oppose it, most notably the landowners whose land will soon be flooded. However, in rural unincorporated areas, there are few options for organized resistance when a powerful water authority decides to plant a reservoir in your backyard. Yet the impact on Fannin County extends beyond the boundaries of the lake itself. The NTMWD is required to mitigate the habitat destruction caused by the new reservoir by creating new habitat nearby. Thus, an area slightly larger than the reservoir has been purchased to this end. In total, 33,441 acres of private land has been appropriated from local landowners (5 percent of Fannin County). This situation in Fannin County magnifies a common but overlooked tension in the field. Despite the extreme impact, large-scale water infrastructure is strangely absent from the architectural conversation. Architects employ water conservation and collect stormwater at a building scale, but, like most, take the availability of water for granted. They know their project simply has to tap into the existing water main in the adjacent street. Yet the construction of buildings is an extremely water-intensive process, regardless of the water-efficient fixtures they specify. A significant amount of water is used during the production of concrete, with yet more added at the building site. To complete the curing process, concrete requires approximately one pound of water for every three pounds of concrete. Unfortunately, little data is available for water use in construction sites in the U.S. Furthermore, under current infrastructural constraints, cities have no capacity to provide the resources for their own sustenance. Most cities do not generate power or harvest their drinking water within their boundaries. In light of this, cities can be seen as having a parasitic relationship with their surrounding rural areas. The ugly and unpleasant realities of power generation are located far out of sight of the cities themselves, and the inundation of private land for drinking water is undertaken in rural areas because, after all, they have plenty of land. This leeching of resources from the countryside enables cities to exist, but it is a reality that the design profession should begin to address. In February 2018, the residents of the NTMWD used an average of just under 3,000 gallons per capita. A few months earlier, in August 2017, the water use was approximately 6,200 gallons per capita, which equates to 200 gallons per day per resident. Watering St. Augustine lawns accounts for much of that summertime use in this suburban water district. While the NTMWD champions the new reservoir as critical to its supplies, it will only meet the demand for the year 2022 through 2040, a span of 18 years. At that point, additional reservoirs will be required. While Texas is a large state, land is still a finite resource, and new prime reservoir locations are very limited. Climate change also poses problems for the continued reliance on reservoirs. Record-breaking drought in 2011 meant nearly all the reservoirs were significantly below capacity, with some municipalities enacting mandatory water conservation measures. Future droughts will be harsher, posing severe challenges to water provision. As architects strive to address the challenges of building in our current environment, a knowledge of the complex and connected relationship of water to development and construction is important. Architects and planners, water officials, and more will need to be creative in solving the complex problem of providing water to future populations. While American cities have not yet had to deal with the scale of catastrophic water shortage that occurred in Cape Town, South Africa, it should give us all pause as a similar situation in North Texas is quite possible.
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Designed to Recycle

Washington, D.C., turns recycling trucks into art
In an effort to encourage locals to reduce landfill waste and pollution, Washington, D.C. has relaunched a beloved program that wraps recycling trucks in brightly-colored art. The “Designed to Recycle” initiative, put on by the Department of Public Works, selected 15 local artists this year to design graphic artwork for the trucks this summer. Last week, the city released the first two of the newly-wrapped trucks and will continue to launch them in weekly pairs through September 6. The program, which started in 2015, also plans to rewrap and “refresh” five of the trucks that received the treatment during the inaugural year. The project is funded by the Commission on the Arts and Humanities and is part of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s commitment to expanding the creative economy in the city. “Through the Design to Recycle Project, we are able to support and showcase the talent of our local artists, further enhance the visibility of the city’s recycling efforts, and add to the creative landscape of the District in all eight wards,” said Angie Gates, interim director for the commission, in a statement. As one of the country’s leaders in sustainability and efforts to address climate change, D.C. has worked tirelessly to advance its zero waste goals and introduce green building laws into its current construction market. Here are the 15 selected designs along with the artists: Waste Not by Nicole Hamam; Recycle Now by Michael Marshall Design; Urban Jungle by Jackie Coleman; Nurturing Nature by Kofi Tyus; Untitled by Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann; Untitled by Dean Kessman; Recycled Fish by Carly Rounds;  Evolution with an “R” by Gordon Steven Spencer Davis II; Mapping by Santiago Flores-Charneco; Inform, Reduce, Recycle by Minsoo Kang & Andre Sanchez-Montoya; Untitled by Anne Masters; Pop District by Sarah, James & Parvina Gilliam; Recycled Flowers by John Gann; Nuestra Terra I recycle DC by Nicolas F. Shi; and Fair Chard Value by Michael Crossett.
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Petal Power

Sculptural concrete canopies cool a San Antonio public park
As implied by its name, Confluence Park overlooks the meeting of San Pedro Creek and the San Antonio River in San Antonio, Texas. Located about three miles south of downtown, the park acts as a gateway for the historic Mission Reach section of the San Antonio River. The $13.7 million project includes an education center and extensive landscaping that illustrates the diverse biomes of Texas. But what most visitors will remember about the 3.5-acre park are the nearly 30-foot-tall concrete petals that emerge from the ground to form a sprawling overhead canopy. Twenty-two of these sculptural panels are clustered together to form a single, large, open-air pavilion. Another six are paired together to form three smaller gathering areas. In addition to providing relief from the South Texas sun, these panels are shaped so that when it rains, they channel water into an integrated system of rainwater collection, filtration, and dispersal. All of this reinforces the stated mission of the park, which is to act as a destination for recreation while teaching important lessons about environmental science and sustainability. To that end, the design team sought to create a composition of architectural and landscape elements that used the same kind of logic found in nature. Ball-Nogues Studio, a Los Angeles–based design practice, established the park’s conceptual master plan. From there, the design was developed in close collaboration with the landscape architect Rialto Studio, Lake|Flato Architects, and Matsys, a San Francisco–based design practice that specializes in the development of new approaches to architectural design and fabrication. That particular skill set was critical in the development of the park’s concrete. Given the structural gymnastics involved, the project’s structural engineer, Architectural Engineers Collaborative (AEC), became an integral part of the design team as well. Although petals of steel, fabric, and wood were all considered during the design process, concrete was ultimately selected for its durability and permanence. Even though the majority of funding for the project came from private donations, Confluence Park functions as a public park, and so vandalism and long-term resiliency were key considerations. Despite the apparent complexity of the assembled petals, the design only required three unique petal shapes. These three forms were refined digitally using Grasshopper and Rhino. The resulting computer files were then provided to Kreysler & Associates and fed to their large 5-axis CNC router at their factory in California. The resulting Styrofoam “positives” were then used to manufacture the fiberglass “negatives” that were shipped to San Antonio to be used as formwork for the petals. Each of the park’s 28 petals was cast on-site but not in place. Given their complex geometry, a portion of the petal had to be exposed during the pour. This resulted in two contrasting concrete textures: a smooth finish where the concrete was poured into the fiberglass form, and a broom finish where the concrete was left exposed. As with many other aspects of the project, a custom solution was required here, too. A special eight-inch broom was used to apply the finish consistently to the petal’s curved form and to emulate the flow of water down the petals. After the concrete had cured for several days, the petals were lifted into their final positions. As with any tilt-up concrete structure, this was the moment when the highest stresses would be placed upon the petals. Adding to the complexity of the erection process was the fact that the petals had to be assembled in pairs: neighboring petals were joined to one another with two steel pin connections to form a determinant structure. The result of all this effort is a unique landmark on the south side of San Antonio. Despite the weight of the concrete petals—individual petals weigh between 15 and 20 tons each—the resulting structure feels remarkably light. The space between individual petals contributes to this feeling of weightlessness, while acrylic lenses embedded in the concrete add a bit of playfulness to the overall composition. In addition to illustrating the possibilities of contemporary concrete construction, Confluence Park demonstrates what is possible when a highly collaborative interdisciplinary design team works with an educated client to create something truly unique. It is only fitting that a park built to celebrate the confluence of diverse bodies of water be created by a confluence of diverse design professionals. Pavilion Design Matsys Landscape Architect Rialto Studio Structural Engineer Architectural Eng. Collaborative MEP CNG Engineering, PLLC Lighting Designer Mazzetti Energy Consultants Positive Energy Waterproofing Consultant Acton Partners This article originally appeared in the July/August issue of Texas Architect magazine.
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Just a Cozy Country Home

The National Trust acquires more of historic Rockefeller estate
The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) has announced the expansion of The Pocantico Center in Pocantico Hills, New York, which will include the acquisition of the Rockefeller Playhouse, a “large Tudor-style building built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1927 as a venue for family recreation and events,” and family properties from the historic Rockefeller estate, according to a statement from the trust. Following the passing of David Rockefeller last year, the properties were gifted to the National Trust, and will join the Trust’s portfolio of 28 historic sites across the nation. Other properties at the Center, including the Marcel Breuer House, the Coach Barn, the Orangerie, and the encircling gardens and landscapes are managed the RBF but are not owned by the Trust. The Pocantico Center is home to philanthropic and public programs. It attracts over 32,000 visitors each year with its public tours and art collections. Annual community programs include “a biannual lecture forum, a dinner series, garden symposia, and other talks on the Center’s art and sculpture collections, as well as an actively cultivated school garden.” The Center also welcomes artist residencies each year from a range of disciplines, including “dancers, musicians, playwrights, poets and visual artists.” The additional buildings and land were already handed over to the trust and the RBF on July 15. The organizers expect to open the added buildings in September. “Saving, using, and sharing historic properties like the nearby Playhouse and Guest Houses help us to understand and appreciate the past, engage with the complex issues that define our present, and come together in a beautiful space to imagine and create a better future,” said Stephanie K. Meeks, president and CEO of the trust. “With a 70-year reputation for excellence in stewardship, the National Trust is honored to protect these historic places and committed to the long-term sustainability and success of both these properties and the entire Historic Hudson Valley. We are deeply indebted to the Rockefeller family for this remarkable gift, just the latest in their exceptional multi-generational commitment to preserving America’s past.” AN recently reported that Meeks is stepping down at the end of 2018, after more than eight years in office. The organization’s board of trustees is actively searching for Meek’s successor.
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The Face of the Nation

Fentress Architects to design U.S. pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai
Fentress Architects will design the United States of America’s pavilion at World Expo 2020 in Dubai. The winning design is based on the theme “What Moves You,” and will emphasize, “the power and diversity of culture, technological innovation in mobility, and commercial opportunity throughout the United States,” according to a statement from Pavilion USA 2020. Fentress’s design will play into the “dynamism of American culture,” and national values of “ingenuity, progress, and innovation.” The renderings from Fentress are yet to be released. “Working across the U.S. has given Fentress Architects diverse perspective on the attributes and attitudes that Americans share. We will coalesce these characteristics into a single architectural expression at World Expo 2020 Dubai, representing the entirety of the U.S. and its design prowess to an international audience,” said Curtis Fentress, principal in charge of design at Colorado-based Fentress Architects. The Fentress-designed pavilion will work with large and small firms from across the U.S., local citizens' groups from different states, and the U.S. and U.A.E. governments to tell a story about the U.S.’s role on the global stage. The exhibit and experience design will be curated by Michigan-based George P. Johnson Experience Marketing (GPJ). Dubai Expo will be held between October 20, 2020, and April 10, 2021, near Dubai emirate’s western border with Abu Dhabi emirate. American firm HOK is responsible for its master plan. The U.A.E. selected the theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” and the sub-themes Sustainability, Mobility, and Opportunity. It is expected to draw over 25 million visitors to the city and be a major economic event. The Bureau International des Expositions is the organizing body behind the shows, which are held intermittently around the world, most recently in Milan in 2015 and Shanghai in 2010. Previous expositions have been occasions for spectacular, sometimes experimental architecture, as in Buckminster Fuller's dome for Expo 1967 Montreal and Kenzo Tange's pavilion for Expo 1970 Osaka. The shows have historically been venues for industries of various nations to showcase their abilities and visions. Expo 2020 is the first world expo held in the Middle East, North Africa or South Asia. The preparation and operation of the fair are expected to result in 277,000 new jobs in the U.A.E. and inject $40 billion into the local economy. Check out this link for more details.
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(Not Actually a Mansion)

BIG’s Shenzhen International Energy Mansion looks better than the renderings
Long after the golden era of corporate modernist skyscrapers (think Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building, SOM’s Lever House, and so on), many contemporary office skyscrapers are still designed with traditional glass curtain walls that have low insulation and cause overheating from unnecessary direct sunlight. Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) conjured an otherworldly alternative for Shenzhen International Energy Mansion: a sawtooth, zigzagging curtain wall comprising glass panels and powder-coated aluminum that blocks direct sunlight, thereby reducing solar gain by up to 30 percent. The 1-million-square-foot structure is composed of two towers and a nine-story connecting block complete with a shared cafeteria, conference rooms, and various retail shops: The uppermost 13 floors of the 42-story north tower houses the Shenzhen Energy Mansion headquarters. As a starting point, BIG considered the subtropical climate in Shenzhen, gauging how they could create comfortable working spaces in hot and humid conditions while at the same time reducing energy consumption. The solution? A passive facade. “Our proposal for Shenzhen Energy Mansion enhances the sustainable performance of the building drastically by only focusing on its envelope, the facade,” said Andreas Klok Pedersen, partner and design director at BIG. Collaborating with Transsolar, the design studio dedicated to addressing climate change, the firm employed various solutions to reduce solar-derived heat and glare without relying on machines or heavy glass coating (which would make views out seem gray and bleak). The building has achieved two out of three stars with the Chinese Green Building Evaluation Label and a LEED Gold rating. BIG and Transsolar developed a multifaceted passive program with a facade folded in an origami-like shape consisting of closed and open subsections. The closed sections provide high insulation values by blocking direct sunlight. “With solid facade panels on the southeast and southwest side for shading, the glazed facade facing northwest and northeast is able to achieve high sustainability requirements with more clarity and less coating,” said Pedersen. All in all, the effect enhances the environmentally sustainable performance of the building and creates an office mise-en-scène bathed in soft light reflected from the direct sunlight diffused between interior panels. Meanwhile, the double glazing applied to the low-e tempered Super Energy-Saving Insulated Glass Units (IGU) by Shanghai Yaohua Pilkington Glass on the folded facade provides open views through the clear glass in one direction via a series of simple deformations in the geometry that allows for larger openings. These interjecting pockets of glass create cavernous folds that interrupt the smooth facade in various interior areas, including lobbies, recreational areas, and meeting areas. This seemingly precarious arrangement of views is made possible by the aluminum cladding's comprising full-height extruded panels that form a meandering profile. The setup enables the panel system to interlock smoothly, creating a uniform surface with almost seamless joints. A profile of twists and turns accentuates the reflections of light. In effect, these solid facade panels located on the southeast and southwest sides directly obstruct solar penetration. “The amount of insulation used in the curtain wall is a result of optimization between visibility and sustainability,” said Pedersen. Location: Shenzhen, China Architect: Bjarke Ingels Group Consulting Architect: SADI Shenzhen Architecture and Design Institute Contractor: CSCEC Engineer: ARUP Facade Consultants: Front, Inc. and Aurecon Facade Contractor: Fangda Group Sustainability Consultant: Transsolar Glass Manufacturer, Supplier, Glazing: Shanghai Yaohua Pilkington Glass Group Co., Ltd Windows: Aumüller Exterior Cladding Panels: Xingfa Aluminum