Imagine shopping for groceries in a LEED Gold–certified building on a site once occupied by Austin’s airport, and you can picture the Mueller H-E-B structure designed by Lake|Flato Architects. The glass-clad building is one of the many collaborations between the Texas supermarket chain and the San Antonio–based firm Lake|Flato. Triangular steel trusses support a soaring, curved roof made of corrugated metal. The H-E-B Market’s design responds to Austin’s highly variable humidity with a vestibule that transports and expels heat out the top. The building is also a testing ground for many sustainable concepts, such as a rain garden that doubles as a water filtration system, rooftop sensors that monitor how much daylight the building gets, and smart air-conditioning—all aimed at reducing energy use and improving the interior environment for shoppers. In 2016, it was awarded an AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten Award, recognizing the architects for their commitment to sustainability.
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Norwegian Cruise Line has unveiled plans for a new terminal in Miami to begin construction in May, pending final approval by the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners. The terminal at PortMiami will be LEED Silver certified and will make an effort to be built with local materials and resources. Designed by Bermello Ajamil & Partners, the terminal’s gently curved outer form and spiralled, multilevel facade are inspired by the nautilus. Immense lateral windows will offer prime ocean views and the oblong, white-accented terminal’s nearly 166,500 square feet will give the port the capacity to host an additional 5,000-person ship with new technology to speed up embarkment and disembarkment. The terminal will also feature a variety of amenities for passengers, as well as expanded parking and valet services. Miami-Dade county will be investing $100 million in the terminal, citing its job creation benefits. It is unclear what Norwegian will itself contribute to the cost of the terminal. Bermello Ajamil & Partners was chosen by Norwegian after a dispute between Norwegian and Miami-Dade county over the initial bid-winning design and construction firm chosen by the county. The county would have saved $19 million if the original plans had gone through. The new Norwegian Cruise Line terminal, to be labeled Terminal B, will be next to Royal Caribbean Cruise’s new Terminal A, which is set to be complete this November, and just east of Norwegian’s current Terminals B and C, which are set to be combined into a single Terminal C. The new terminal arrangement would double Norwegian’s capacity. PortMiami is currently the “cruise capital of the world,” last year breaking world records by hosting 5.3 million visitors. The new terminal will dramatically reshape the port, and as PortMiami director Juan Kuryla told the Miami Herald, “[set] the stage for other beautiful terminals along the north side of the port.” The terminal is intended to be completed fall 2019 to coincide with the launch of the Norwegian Encore, the newest Breakaway Plus class ship in Norwegian’s fleet.
Less than a year after presenting a design proposal to renovate an empty warehouse into their new national headquarters in the Crossroads Art District of Kansas City, local firm BNIM has withdrawn its plans. After a losing battle over tax incentives, the firm and the building’s owner have stated that without the financial support of the city, the project is not economically viable. The proposal by BNIM, the 2011 AIA National Architecture Firm Award winners, was envisioned as a “living” building that would efficiently use water and produce as much energy as it used. As planned, the building would achieve a higher standard than LEED Platinum, something that BNIM has achieved one other time in a built project in New York State. To achieve this level of sustainability, the project was planned to utilize numerous novel technologies and techniques, including a greenhouse to help with water management and a solar array used for energy, passive water heating and cooling, and shade. Also serving as a space for professional and academic education the firm described the project as “a global laboratory for quality sustainable design.” The firm would have used the top two floors of the 43,000 square foot building while the bottom floor was slated for retail, commercial, and office space. With the support of the mayor and city council, the $13.2 million project was hoping to utilize $5.2 million from the cities Tax Incentive Finance Committee (TIF). A hotbed issue in many cities, social justice activists and concerned Kansas City School District parents opposed the incentives going to the project, stating that too much money would be diverted from public schools. Understanding the concerns of residents, BNIM and the city attempted to negotiate and reformulate the proposal and incentive package to accommodate the resistance. The decision to provide the TIF money was to be voted on as a ballot initiative. By gathering petition signatures, opponents were able to stop the measure from even being added to the ballot, effectively killing the possibility of the money being released. BNIM has stated that its is still committed to staying in Kansas City, and will now be looking for a new office space as current projects require growth in the coming year.
New York’s enormous Javits Center could grow $1 billion larger with Cuomo’s plan and FXFOWLE’s design
As part of a package of proposals for his 2016 agenda, development on Manhattan's West Side will intensify. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently revealed a $1 billion plan to expand the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. The expansion, designed by New York–based FXFOWLE, calls for adding 1.2 million square feet of event and meeting space, as well as a four-story, 480,000-square-foot parking garage to house the 20,000 or so tractor-trailers that bring event supplies to and from the venue each year. The Javits Center, between West 34th and West 40th streets along 11th Avenue, is one of the nation's busiest convention centers. The state estimates that the convention center generated $1.8 billion in economic activity in 2014. Cuomo's proposal would add 1.2 million square feet of space to the 2.1 million-square-foot venue, increasing its size by 50 percent. Upgrades include 500,000 square feet of uninterrupted event space, as well as a 60,000-square-foot ballroom. The parking facility will improve pedestrian safety by diverting trucks from the streets surrounding the Javits Center into a central delivery area with 35 loading docks. The venue is aiming to up its current LEED Silver certification to LEED Platinum with energy-saving upgrades. 2014 renovations added a 6.75 acre green roof, new flooring, and a new facade. A 34,000-square-foot solar energy array, the largest on any public building in New York, will be installed to complement these upgrades. Additionally, a terrace with a 2,500 person capacity will be built to take advantage of sweeping Hudson River views. Construction is expected to begin in late 2016. See the gallery below for more images of the planned renovations.
Ten years in the making, the renovation of one of Staten Island's oldest buildings—part of the Staten Island Museum expansion—is finally complete. Well, almost. Stepping into the refurbished Cultural Center building just off of Staten Island's seafront, the smell of fresh paint still hangs lightly in the air as designers and the team behind the project apply the final touches to Gluckman Tang Architects' (formerly Gluckman Mayner) design. Originally used by sailors, the 1879 landmarked 'Building A' at Snug Harbor follows the Greek Revival style of the adjacent structures. So far, it has taken ten years from proposal to opening, and four years to construct, at a cost of $24.4 million. Speaking to AN, James Young-Suk Lim, of New York–based Gluckman Tang, told of the difficulties they had in creating "acceptable climate conditions" for the galleries. "The project was unique as we had to keep so much due to the building's status as a national landmark," he said. The building was actually one of the first to be given landmark status by New York's Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). Despite gutting the 18,000-square-foot building, opening it up for gallery use, Gluckman Tang appropriately employed a subtle design approach to the interior. During this process, load-bearing walls were replaced by structural columns, creating an open feel and giving visitors more space to explore. Much of the inside is white meanwhile fire-proof doors use frame fitting glass panes. The technique visually invites people into the galleries and continues to open up circulation spaces that would otherwise be empty voids. This minimalist approach also gave the museum and exhibition designers greater freedom and flexibility to adapt the space. In this instance, the exhibition design by Ralph Appelbaum Associates (also from New York) employs a similar minimalist glass strategy and complements the work by Gluckman Tang. Walls have been painted pastel green, creating an air of calmness and tranquility, with the subtle color change acting as a visual threshold between the gallery and circulation spaces. Keeping the temperature at 70 degrees and at 50 percent relative humidity (a museum requirement) was always going to be a tough task given the mandate to maintain certain historical elements of the building, notably the 19th century windows and window frames. Consequently, a new building envelope was created inside the existing structure. The architects installed floor-to-ceiling windows with Low E soft coatings that were recessed from the original bays. The windows act as a "vapor barrier," yet allow users to still view old windows. Translucent pull down blinds shade the art from damaging sunlight, while soft interior lighting modules placed along rails in the ceiling enhance the display. This feature allows the circulatory spaces that are not bound by daylight regulations to become brighter, amplifying the threshold existing between the spaces. In addition to this, the building is also a LEED Gold project. Some 18 geothermal energy piles were drilled 499 feet (500 feet requires mining permission) to provide energy to the building, of which the majority will be used for climate control. The latest addition to the Staten Island Museum will feature a diverse range of cultural and historical artifacts ranging from fish fossils to art from the island. The inaugural exhibitions will be open to the public on Saturday, September 19 at 10:00a.m.
Old and new technologies combine in renovated anthropology building.Tasked with transforming Harvard's 1971 Tozzer Library into a new home for the university's Anthropology Department, Kennedy & Violich Architecture (KVA) faced a unique set of challenges. In addition to balancing the desire for a distinct architectural identity with the building's literal and metaphorical connection to adjacent structures including Peabody Museum, the architects had to accommodate an expanded program within the old library's footprint and structure. As for Tozzer Library's facade, a mold problem and poor environmental performance meant that preserving the brick exterior was never an option. "It's a generic problem of envelopes from buildings that aren't that old, yet can't stand up to contemporary needs," said principal Sheila Kennedy. "What are you going to do with those buildings? The bold approach here was, 'we're going to build on [the existing] value." By stripping Tozzer Library down to its steel and concrete-slab bones, adding space under a two-story copper roof, and wrapping the exterior in a parametrically-designed brick skin, KVA seamlessly negotiated between Harvard's storied past and the mandates of a 21st-century curriculum. Both Kennedy and founding principal J. Frano Violich are quick to dismiss the notion that the problems with the 1971 building, designed by Boston firm Johnson, Hotvedt and Associates, were anything other than a product of their times. "Attitudes toward energy consumption were very different at the time," said Violich. "[Tozzer Library] was built by intelligent people, but everyone's understanding was different from today." In contrast, he said, for the new Tozzer Anthropology Building, "everyone was on top of every [LEED] point." (The project achieved LEED Gold.) KVA began by substituting 6-inch wall studs for the original 2 1/2-inch studs, making way for improved air circulation and insulation. In addition, they eliminated the potential for mold growth by increasing the air gap between the outside sheeting and the back of the brick veneer from 3/4 inches to 2 inches. With the mechanics of the exterior walls in place, "the challenge, aesthetically, was how do we get a sense of both thickness and thinness in the veneer?" said Violich. Luckily, the question of how to breathe new life into flat surfaces was nothing new for the architects. "At KVA we've been very interested in how one designs with contemporary wall systems, with materials that are thin," explained Kennedy. "How do we express their thinness, but by architectural means and devices give them an architectural thickness, manipulate them formally so there can be a game of thin and thick?" In the case of Tozzer Anthropology Building, the answer was a new entrance pavilion with a three-dimensional brick pattern meant to "seem like carved thick brick—like an archeological find," said Kennedy. Drawing upon their early experiments with digital brick, including those at the University of Pennsylvania Law School building, the designers used parametric design software to tie each brick unit to the building's overall form. "As we manipulated the physical form in 3D, we could see various brick patterns that could develop," explained Kennedy. "It was a hybrid of low-tech and high-tech," she said of the process of zeroing in on corbeling, a brick-stacking technique that allows for overhanging layers. The digitally-derived corbeled texture complemented the depth of ornament found elsewhere around Harvard's campus. "We didn't want to make something that was arbitrary and ornamental, but something that was authentic to our time," said Kennedy. To arrive at a final design for the multi-story entrance wall, the architects again combined cutting-edge technology with traditional expertise. "The actual pattern was achieved through physical experimentation," explained Kennedy. "We did a lot of dry stack work with local masons: We would take the designs out of the computer, then pass them to the masons to test. That was a really fun part of the process." KVA then took what they learned from their real-life experiments back into the virtual world, adjusting the digital design accordingly. Even the flat facades appear unlike typical brick walls, thanks largely to an unusual window arrangement. "When you're looking at the windows, you're not looking at traditional punch windows, or a strip window with a long relieving angle," said Violich. Rather, the windows are shifted to conceal the vertical control joints in the brick. "That helps defuse the veneer quality that brick sometimes brings on," he explained. The floor-to-floor windows further confound expectations by concealing the plenum and—because they are frameless, and punch out rather than in—appearing as much like light monitors as the actual skylights cut into the building's roofline. Tozzer Anthropology Building's recycled-content copper roof completes the dialogue between thick and thin established on the brick facades. "We worked hard in the massing of the design to give a twist to the building," said Kennedy. "That could really only happen in the two new floors." KVA textured the copper roof with vertical standing seams, again using parametric software to arrange different panel types in a corduroy-like pattern. "A lot of times people think advanced facades are super technical, but we can get lost in the technology and why we're using it," observed Kennedy. "[This project] is a good combination of an aesthetic agenda, an architectural agenda, and a technical agenda." For KVA, Tozzer Anthropology Building represents more than just a repurposed campus building. Rather, it offers a provocative answer to one of today's most pressing questions: how to rectify an inherited aesthetic preference for glass with the current push for improved energy efficiency. "Everybody loves glass—we love transparency in architecture," said Kennedy. "But as we move on in our energy transition, we're going to have to develop new ideas about mass and opacity. How can we go back to a pre-modern time, but create something that is contemporary?"
Ultra efficient curtain wall system marries transparency and sustainability.For some institutions, building "sustainably" means doing the bare minimum—checking the boxes of government or in-house requirements and then moving on. Such was not the case at Colorado State University, where campus officials aspired to a higher standard for the new Suzanne and Walter Scott, Jr. Bioengineering Building. Though mandated by state law to achieve LEED Gold on new construction, the dean urged the architects—design architect RATIO Architects and architect of record Hord Coplan Macht (previously SLATERPAULL)—to aim for Platinum. At the same time, school authorities placed an extra emphasis on a tight envelope, having had difficulty maintaining pressurization in another recently-constructed facility. Thanks to a combination of an ultra-efficient curtain wall system, spray foam insulation, and exterior and interior sunshades, the designers exceeded the client's performance expectations without sacrificing the program's focus on visibility and connectivity. The ultimate goal of achieving LEED Platinum directly shaped the facade of the classroom and office building. "[The dean] wanted to get to Platinum," recalled Hord Coplan Macht's Jennifer Cordes. "We knew the only way to get there was if we had a significant building envelope designed to add photovoltaics." The PV panels themselves would have to wait, due to budget constraints. In the meantime, Hord Coplan Macht focused on two other challenges: the desire to prevent any loss of pressurization; and the need to rectify the design architect's vision of a glass box with the reality of the Colorado climate. "When we added these issues together, we had to get creative with the building envelope," said Cordes, who also acknowledged the role local municipal rebates played in incentivizing a high-performance design. The design concept for the Suzanne and Walter Scott, Jr. Building, said Cordes, "was to create the space in between. The space between the research laboratories and the student classrooms was really where the students were going to learn from the researchers." The architects arranged the labs along the north side of the building; faculty offices and teaching spaces line the south elevation. The programmatic separation allowed them to sequester the two components' mechanical systems—a boon to efficiency—and to carve the center of the building into a naturally-ventilated three-story atrium that is a perfect space for casual interactions among students, faculty, and staff. Elsewhere, the focus on connecting students with faculty and researchers is materialized in large expanses of glass. Hord Coplan Macht's principal challenge was to rectify the emphasis on transparency with the mandate to minimize thermal gain. "We started to look at the window to wall ratio," recalled Cordes. "Our first [number] was outrageous. [So we looked] at how we could insulate a curtain wall system and get an R-value of 20 even within that." The solution, which the architects developed in concert with Kawneer, involved back-panning, adding polyiso behind all the spandrel glass to effectively decrease the window to wall ratio. They then added a sheet metal back-panning system inside the curtain wall frame for vapor barrier, plus insulation and GWB. Large panes of stone backed with spray foam insulation provided additional energy savings. "Spray foam insulation is very cost-effective, and you get a high R-value per inch," explained Cordes. "It allowed us to get some significant walls into our system." On the vulnerable south facade, the architects deployed both external and internal sunshades. On the exterior, an integrated sunscreen helps cut back on solar gain. On the interior, the designers sloped the ceilings to help bounce light into the space. The internal light louvers they used, which Cordes compares to "good-looking mini blinds," are "pretty impressive and work really well," she said. The interior shading system "managed the glare and also increased the daylighting, pushing light deeper into the space." All of the exterior glass carries a low-e coating, but the architects chose a higher visibility glass for use on the south facade, to further enhance daylighting. Installing the thermally broken Kawneer 1600 curtain wall system proved trickier than Hord Coplan Macht had anticipated, said Cordes, in part because the contractors—working during the winter—installed the back panning from the inside out, rather than the reverse. But the extra coordination was well worth it, as the project's LEED scores and post-occupancy energy and water use data have demonstrated. "With the caveat that the building is being used a little more than was projected in the model, it's performing better" than expected, said Hord Coplan Macht's Ara Massey. "Per the facilities manager, it's one of the best performing buildings on campus." For Cordes, no reward could be greater. "I think the one [thing] we're most proud of is that it's performing so well," she said.
Looking to expand its footprint across 35 acres outside Cairo, Egypt's National Cancer Institute has hired Skidmore Owings & Merrill to design and plan nine million square feet of healthcare space for an “international nexus of cancer research, education, and discourse” that is targeting LEED Gold. Situated in Giza's Sheikh Zayed City, approximately 17 miles west of central Cairo, the sprawling new cancer center is organized around modules and separate circulation spines for staff and patients. The whole facility is undergirded by a massive support plinth sitting atop six levels below grade. Above that subterranean campus, six towers for inpatients shade outdoor courtyards, while four more comprise the outpatient facility. Both complexes connect to a “multilevel diagnostic and treatment platform” with imaging equipment, surgery centers and all kinds of treatment. The center includes ample space for training new medical professionals, including a 1,000-bed teaching hospital and research center, nursing and technician training institutes and a scientific center. Despite its mammoth size, the 200-acre campus is intended to feel cohesive, according to SOM's project description, because of its highly organized layout.
Curved metal facade embodies spirit of mobility at LAX.The commission to design a new Central Utility Plant (CUP) for Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) came with a major caveat: the original 1960s-era CUP would remain online throughout construction, providing heating and cooling to adjacent passenger terminals until the new plant was ready to take over."We had to keep the existing CUP up and running, build the new one, do the cutover, then tear down the old CUP and build a thermal energy storage tank in its place," explained Gruen Associates project designer Craig Biggi. "It was a very challenging project from that standpoint—working in a 24/7 environment, and getting everything up and running within a small footprint." But despite these and other hurdles, the design-build team (which included Clark/McCarthy, A Joint Venture as general contractors, Arup as A/E design lead, and Gruen Associates as architect) succeeded in delivering the new CUP in time to support LAX's newest terminal. Its curved stainless steel and glass facade captures the airport's spirit of mobility, and helps restore a sense of cohesion to an otherwise fragmented built landscape. LAX is a busy place, both aesthetically and with respect to passenger movement. "There's a lot of visual activity happening there," explained Biggi. "It's been built up over time, so there's this layering effect. This was meant to be an architectural design that not only simplifies some of the visual confusion, but addresses the context of the airport itself as a site that has a lot of movement." When shaping the building envelope, the designers looked at concepts of laminar flow, of which one example is the passage of air over an aircraft wing. "What we came up with was a streamlined architectural expression that ties together three distinct programmatic elements," said Biggi. "The project uses this expression to tie into the existing context by flowing around corners, then opens up at certain locations to allow the program to have ventilation and views." The CUP's primary facade is clad in stainless steel composite panels within a pressurized rain screen system. The architects chose stainless steel, explained partner-in-charge and project manager Debra Gerod, to respond to the potentially corrosive effects of jet fuel and other chemicals as well as the salty Southern California air. In addition, "we had to work to get a finish that wouldn't create reflections," said Gerod. "We're right underneath the control tower. Being mindful that the sun can be at any angle, bouncing off airplanes, that [became a] careful performance-based element" of the design. Non-curved sections of the CUP's envelope feature corrugated aluminum panels, which reduce the risk of reflection and help camouflage functional components including large doors that allow the installation and replacement of equipment. "How we were able to put these giant openings into the side of the facade and have it be blended in and aligned with the corrugated metal paneling—these were some of the things we really paid a lot of attention to," said Gerod. Similarly, the ribbon windows on the stainless steel facade help conceal exhaust louvers, in addition to providing views from the engineers' offices. "We always looked at opportunities for streamlining the aesthetic of the exterior," said Biggi. "We were looking for simple massing that looked fluid in its resolution." Gruen Associates designed the new CUP as a visual landmark for passersby, installing a massive window on the north facade in order to reveal the interior of the chiller room. "This is a bit of an homage to the old CUP," explained Gerod. "When it was first built, it was a really nice building: round, with lots of glass. By the time we got to it, things were spilling out in all directions. But as originally designed, it had a view into the inner workings of the plant." Meanwhile, the architects used blue-colored LEDs and reflectors moved by the wind to create a lighting effect on the adjacent thermal energy storage tank—which, like the nearby cooling towers, is also clad in stainless steel—that mimics the rippling motion of a swimming pool at night. "The lighting effect is meant to address passengers as they're driving down Center Way, and give some animation to the large mass of the storage tank," said Biggi. Here, too, the designers were careful to plan the lighting so as not to interfere with air traffic control functions. LAX's new CUP, which is targeting LEED Gold certification, promises a 25 percent increase in efficiency over the 50-year-old plant it replaces. With continued expansion in the offing, it did not arrive on the scene any too soon. Though much of the design was shaped by current conditions at the airport, including both functional considerations and an aesthetic embrace of the airport's hectic pace, Gruen Associates simultaneously thought ahead, to a larger—but hopefully visually more coherent—LAX. Should a proposed terminal extension to the west come to pass, the CUP's curved stainless steel facade will provide a backdrop for the newer buildings, setting the stage for a more deliberate approach to the airport's ongoing transformation.
Last week Cincinnati officials lauded the opening of a new police station that they're calling one of the nation's greenest buildings devoted to public safety. Cincinnati-based emersion DESIGN led design on the new Police District 3 Headquarters, which will be LEED Platinum and net-zero, producing as much energy on site as it consumes, according to city officials. The building's design/build team also included Messer Construction, CMTA Engineering, Human Nature Landscape Design, Strand Associates, and Genesis Design. Geothermal heating and cooling complements the building's tightly sealed envelope, as well as other efficiency measures that cut its energy demand in half relative to similar 24/7 public safety buildings, while solar photovoltaic panels offset its electricity consumption. At 39,000 square feet, the new headquarters more than doubles the previous Warsaw Avenue facility, which first opened in 1907. The new building at 2300 Ferguson Road in Westwood will house roughly 200 employees. Following the playbook of Cincinnati Public Schools, the new district HQ will also incorporate public art and host community events in an attempt to soothe a sometimes fraught relationship with police. In 2001 Cincinnati grabbed national headlines when widespread protests seized the city following the police killing of unarmed Timothy Thomas. (Cincinnati police have also earned national media attention for substantial reforms since the riots.) “It used to be that when cities built civic buildings like this, they were places the community could come together,” said Mayor Mark Mallory at the building's groundbreaking in 2013. “With District 3, we’re doing that again. We want people to come here and feel comfortable coming here with their neighbors.”
Faceted facade evokes regenerative prairie burns.For most projects, admits VernerJohnson's Jonathan Kharfen, architects steer clear of evoking a potentially destructive force like fire. But Museum at Prairiefire, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) outpost in Overland Park, Kansas, proved an exception to the rule. Because Prairiefire houses AMNH's traveling exhibits, its content is constantly changing, and thus provided little guidance in terms of an overarching design concept. Kharfen instead looked to the location. "What is the area about?" he asked. "For me the first thing that came to mind were the prairie burns. Coming from Boston, I'd never seen anything like it." Using dynamic materials including dichroic glass and iridescent stainless steel, VernorJohnson crafted a faceted high performance envelope that embodies the color, movement, and regenerative power of fire. Not long after landing on the fire metaphor, said Kharfen, "I knew of a couple of materials that would be perfect, because for me it's all about movement and light." He began researching dichroic glass, a composite glass that changes colors depending on the angle of view. The museum's sustainability goals—the project is targeting LEED Silver—dictated that the material would double as an insulating unit, the first such application in the United States. But that presented an additional challenge, as products with the dichroic properties embedded in the glass itself would break the budget. To lower costs, the architects collaborated with fabricator Goldray Industries to design an assembly incorporating dichroic film from 3M. The solution turned out to be an aesthetic boon as well as a cost-cutter, as the film itself carries a flame-like pattern. "It's subtly dimply, it's animated, it's beautiful," said Kharfen. Kharfen's team paired the dichroic glass with a second shape-shifting material, Light Interference Coated (LIC) stainless steel, ultimately applying panels in a variety of color and finish combinations. "With the stainless steel, I wanted to create [the appearance of] flame bursts and sparks," explained Kharfen. "I didn't want to apply it in a random way." Instead, the architects arranged the panels in a gradient, with blue (near the bottom) giving way to burgundies and reds and finally to golden yellow. For Kharfen, it was not enough that the materials themselves convey a sense of life and movement. "I wanted them to be dynamic shapes, dynamic in plan as well as in elevation," he said. His solution—a faceted curtain wall—upped the project's technical ante. To avoid cluttering up the lobby space with columns, Kharfen worked with structural engineers Structural Engineering Associates to design a custom support system of stainless steel tubes fronted by angled mullions, to which the curtain wall is attached as a veneer. To accommodate the 14 unique angles involved in the faceting, curtain wall manufacturer Kawneer developed a new adjustable mullion, a hinged plate with a 180-degree range of movement. Given the museum's ever-changing content, the architects treated the exhibit spaces as "black boxes," said Kharfen. "For the solid areas I wanted to evoke the overlapping, curved forms of the hills." The client, Fred Merrill of Merrill Companies, loved the stonework at VernorJohnson's Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan, Kansas, which suggests striated rock formations. "He asked, 'Can't we just do that here?'" recalled Kharfen. "I said, 'No, we're going to do something different.' I wanted a gradient." To cut costs and simplify installation, the architects whittled a more complex scheme down to a mix of two different stones in each band, with the bands varying in width. Again, the referent is fire: the walls begin with a charcoal-colored architectural cast stone before moving through Kansas limestone in shades of red, brown, gold, and off-white. Together, the stone-clad exhibit halls and the lobby curtain wall complete the picture of a prairie burn. "I wanted the fire elements to engulf and connect the solid volumes," said Kharfen. "I did them as lines of fire, because, historically, that's how these fires were set." But while the burn metaphor extends to every level of detail, including the flicker-flame-inspired sloping at the tops of the doors and windows, for the project architect the museum design ends where it began: with the primary materials. Speaking again of the dichroic glass, he concluded, "I cannot think of a material that looks more like fire than this glass."
Last September, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat invited me to serve as the special media correspondent for its Shanghai symposium, entitled Future Cities: Towards Sustainable Vertical Urbanism. I conducted video interviews with dozens of architects, developers, building managers, and others on topics relevant to tall building design and sustainable urbanism. Among the many designers, engineers and other tall building types I interviewed was Luke Leung, director of sustainable engineering for SOM. In Shanghai's Jin Mao Tower (an SOM building), we talked air quality, sustainable design metrics, and whether humanity might be able to build ourselves out of the environmental mess we find ourselves in. "The tall building can help to create better health and potentially less carbon emissions in the city per capita," Leung said, but he added it's important to address the issue holistically. We need to reduce emissions associated with embodied carbon, transportation carbon and operating carbon, Leung said: “We need to strike to make those three components to be all approaching net-zero.” Asked if LEED is still the best way to rank green buildings, Leung acknowledged shortcomings in how we talk about sustainable design. “It's amazing that the focus is on energy and water, while the building is designed for human beings,” he said. And he called for more attention to human-centric systems that address human health: “From that standpoint all the green building systems, they have room for improvement, but LEED is one that starts addressing some of those issues.” Finally, in light of technological progress, Leung stressed humility before nature. “[To] go back and listen to the basic laws of nature is our best bet,” Leung said. “But that time is limited.” Watch more videos on CTBUH’s website, and on YouTube. You can subscribe to their monthly video series here.