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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Baltimore recently added a new category to its Excellence in Design Awards Program: the Social Equity Design Award, which will be given out in collaboration with the Neighborhood Design Center (NDC), an organization that promotes community-engaged design. The award was created in honor of the 50th anniversary of the non-profit’s establishment and the civil rights leader Whitney M. Young’s landmark speech at the 100th Convention of the AIA. In his historic 1968 keynote address, Young urged architects across the country to address social issues and diversity in the profession. Later that year the NDC was founded by a group of Baltimore architects mobilized by Young’s speech to rebuild their communities following the riots following Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. The Social Equity Design Award is meant to recognize projects that “promote social equity and align with NDC’s values,” according to a statement by AIA Baltimore. The statement goes on to say that, "Healthy places are built with consideration of social justice, environmental sustainability, and the true character of a place and the people who live, work, worship, and do business there.” "Architecture is about people, and the Social Equity Design Award celebrates that architecture can and should improve quality of life for everyone," said Laura Wheaton, AIA, program manager at the Neighborhood Design Center and member of the AIA Baltimore board of directors. This award coincides with the exhibition A Call to Act(ivism): Echoing Whitney Young, 50 Years Later, which is being put on by AIA New York to commemorate Young's speech and its implications for architects today. It is currently on view through September 15 at the Center for Architecture. The judging panel will consist of local architects and community leaders. The awards will be given out at the 2018 AIA Baltimore Excellence in Design Awards Celebration, which will be held at Center Stage on October 19. The deadline for submission is September 4. Click here for details.
Cleaning Up the Capital
Washington, D.C., debates renewable energy goals
Last week, District of Columbia councilmember Mary Cheh introduced the Clean Energy DC Act of 2018, legislation that, if enacted, would require 100 percent of the electricity sold in the District to come from renewable sources by 2032. The act also specifies new guidelines for retrofitting existing buildings that emit substantial greenhouse gases into more energy efficient structures. The bill must be reviewed by committees before a vote takes place, which would probably happen sometime in the fall. In the wake of the United States' withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, many U.S. cities have set their own sustainability goals, and the attempts have taken various forms, including a pledge by Saint Paul, Minnesota to make all of its buildings carbon neutral by 2050. Under the watch of D.C.'s Department of Energy and the Environment (DOEE), the New Building Emissions Standards proposed by the act would regulate the energy performance of the District's buildings and introduce benchmarks for future construction. Regulations would include cover energy usage and energy efficiency, among other topics. An incentive and financial assistance program would be set up, while penalties would be issued for buildings that fail to comply. Cheh’s office told AN that the act does not intend to create prescriptive policies aimed at restricting the building industry, but the Washington, D.C., chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA|DC) expressed that that is a concern. They note that the current proposal "contains ambiguity and leaves the setting of performance criteria up to D.C. DOEE staff without clear opportunity for stakeholder input,” according to an earlier comment. “The legislation puts a large administrative burden on D.C. DOEE staff to set the standards, track compliance, and enforce the requirements of the program," said the AIA|DC in a statement. "The mandate for private property owners to upgrade existing building systems and performance without accompanying financial assistance could be problematic, leading to legal challenges and potentially adversely impact development.” Despite these comments, the AIA|DC said that it is proud that the city intends to lead the nation in setting a new standard for clean energy. This is not the first time that Washington’s building sustainability efforts have come under the spotlight. Last year, the city was dubbed the “quiet capital of sustainable design” by Huffington Post. They reported that in 2016, the city’s volume of certified green buildings per capita was almost eight times that of Massachusetts, and over 11 times the average for the top ten greenest states. D.C. was later named the world’s first LEED Platinum City in recognition of the city’s efforts in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting clean energy in the built environment. One innovative green building currently under construction in D.C. is the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Headquarters. Its “net zero” design means it generates as much energy as it uses. Design features include a photovoltaic array, a radiant cooling system, a green wall, a direct current electrified grid, a water reclamation cistern, and a municipal sewer heat exchange system. The building is seeking the Net Zero Energy Building (NZEB) Certification by the International Living Future Institute.
City of Dreams Pavilion brings artifacts of the agro-industrial age to New York City
Architecture studio Austin+Mergold has teamed up with artist Maria Park and students from Cornell University to produce Oculi, this year's City of Dreams Pavilion on Governors Island in New York City. The design was the winner of the annual City of Dreams competition aimed at promoting sustainability in architecture and design. It's on view now through October 31. The installation features a field of elevated oculi made from 40-year-old metal grain bins procured from a farm in Delphos, Ohio. The oculi frame unobstructed views of the sky while tracking the path of the sun with a range of shadow patterns. The interior walls of the bins are painted in shades of blue that correspond to the changing colors of the sky throughout the day. “Artifacts of the American agro-industrial age, these bins have been repurposed in ways not unlike how medieval inhabitants of Rome reoccupied the remains of the Ancient Empire,” explained the studio in a statement. They compare the grain bin with “spolia,” a term for ancient stone that has been repurposed in new construction. The City of Dreams Pavilion is now a gathering place for visitors to enjoy performances and lectures. Following the de-installation, the bins will be reused as materials for an experimental housing cluster in Central New York. The competition was organized by FIGMENT, the Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA) of the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter (AIANY), and the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY). For Oculi, the architects and artist collaborated with consulting engineers Chris Earls and Scott Hughes.
Yale University and Gray Organschi Architecture have designed and built a self-sufficient tiny house for UN Environment and UN Habitat, and the building is on display in UN Plaza in Midtown Manhattan until August 11. The Ecological Living Module contains 215 square feet of occupiable interior space and carves out another 16 square feet for a rear mechanical closet. The unit uses passive lighting and moisture collection, structural cross-laminated timber (CLT), food-growing green walls, and sun-tracking solar panels to shrink both the building’s embodied energy and resource needs. According to UN Environment, housing construction worldwide uses 40 percent of all resources produced every year and accounts for one-third of greenhouse gas emissions (not to mention the conflicts being fought over rapidly dwindling materials like sand). The module was commissioned just in time for the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, to illustrate the idea that sustainable urbanization can only be accomplished if buildings minimize their contribution to climate change. The Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture and Gray Organschi worked together to design and install the module in only four weeks. The building was fabricated partially in New Haven and partially in Brooklyn and assembled on the UN campus amidst heavy security and tight construction restrictions. In order to balance maximum sun exposure with thermal comfort, the module was designed with New York’s specific micro-climate in mind. The dramatically-sloped building is clad in dark cedar planks and is home to two cascading “farm walls”, one on either side, and Gray Organschi claims that in New York the home can produce over 260 servings of vegetables. Plants were used inside as well in the loft area, and a living wall in the upper loft area purifies air for the inhabitants. “Structure was used as finish,” explains Gray Organschi founding principle Alan Organschi. The same pale CLT used to support the building was left exposed inside to create all of the finished surfaces, from countertops to stairs. The timber was sourced from the northeastern U.S. and sequestered more carbon than the effort used to harvest it. The team optimized daylighting in the building by carving strategic cuts into the back and roof. An Integrated Concentrating Solar Facade was installed to both reduce the amount of incoming sunlight and harvest solar power; an array of tiny panels track the sun’s movement and focus light on the minimally-sized solar receivers. The team wanted to build a system that could be assembled with the least amount of effort, and that would use the minimal amount of toxic materials to create. After August 11, the Ecological Living Module will be partially disassembled and brought to San Francisco; the structure was built narrow enough to be towed by truck. After that, the module will be flown out for demonstration in Quito, Ecuador, and then Nairobi, Kenya.