In a nearly unanimous vote on Tuesday, December 10, the New York City Council passed a new regulation mandating the use of “bird-friendly material” in all new construction projects. Conservationists hope the new bill will curb the number of birds killed annually by collisions with the city's buildings, a figure that currently ranges between 90,000 and 230,000. The bill, Proposed Initiative 1482B, which passed 43-3, will require 90 percent of the first 75 feet of new buildings to be constructed with materials that are easier for birds to identify as obstacles. John Rowden, Director of Community Conservation at the National Audubon Society, pointed towards lighting and glass as the two main reasons for bird collisions. “Lighting is an attractant—especially for migrating birds who often fly at night. Brightly lit buildings can draw birds in where they can hit windows or other obstacles,” noted Rowden. Glass is confusing to birds because it is both invisible and reflective; they see their habitat or sky reflected in the glass and consequently fly into it. Once the bill becomes law, that glass will need to be treated with frosted patterns or etchings to demarcate it as an obstacle. New York City experiences exceptional bird traffic because of its location along the Atlantic Flyway, one of four major migratory routes across the globe. Migrations during fall and spring bring a surge of varied species through the city, and with that comes a corollary increase in collisions. As North America continues to build taller glass structures, it is estimated that 29 percent of birds (about 3 billion) have vanished from the continent since 1970. New York City is the largest American city to adopt this sort of environmental building legislation. According to a report by Curbed, the council hopes to set an example for others to follow: “This is a significant step in protecting our feathered friends,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “The hope is that when you have other big cities that put this requirement on, it’s going to increase production and, hopefully, bring costs down. We think that other cities are going to follow us on this.”
Posts tagged with "Environmental Design":
New York–based design studio MOS Architects recently developed an experimental model of housing using only foam blocks. The pixelated structure, reminiscent of the sturdy ziggurats from ancient Mesopotamia, is not only cheap and environmentally friendly, but, according to the architects, it can also be constructed within a few days. According to the firm’s traditional method of labeling, the Tetris-style prototype has been dubbed “House No. 12, A Foam House with 98 Blocks of Foam and 8 Doors.” MOS designed the structure specifically for low-income families who suffer from poverty and homelessness. By using expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, a lightweight and easily maneuverable material that helps insulate the shelter, they were able to construct a house that is innovative, hyper-functional, and cost-effective. EPS foam is typically used to insulate packages due to its compact yet lightweight structure. These material characteristics will provide a wide range of benefits to future homeowners, who can dwell within each unit fully protected from the outside elements. Once House No. 12 is built to full-size, its exterior will be coated with a rough cement and stucco finish, further protecting its soft, spongy center. As the name suggests, House No. 12 features 98 foam blocks and eight different entryways. It also includes an open and flexible floor plan, equipped with a spacious kitchen, living area, and bedroom. According to the architects, the layout of the prototype was inspired by a ziggurat because throughout history ziggurats have been symbols of power, domination, and protection. The massive stone temples were known architecturally for their wide, protective bases and narrow, flat tops. MOS Architects expects that once constructed in real life House No. 12 will bring hope to underserved communities who seek a safe place to live, while also representing a better way of life.
On October 24th, AN and Enclos present Facades+PERFORMANCE, an architectural symposium in Chicago on the complexity, construction, and design of modern facades. Gathering some of the leading architects, engineers, and innovators within the field, panels and keynotes will address the most pressing issues of facade design today. Among these experts is Pratik Raval of Transsolar who will be leading “Climate Responsive Design,” a discussion of the foundations, challenges, and solutions found within engineering for optimal human comfort and low environmental impact. Raval is a regular studio jury at Colombia University and the University of Pennsylvania, a frequent presenter for various architectural and engineering symposiums, and a guest advisory board member for the New York City College of Technology’s Bachelor’s program in Architectural Technology. He has a diverse background in both tech and design. Using Transsolar project examples, he will provide Facades+PERFORMANCE attendees with insight on optimization and collaborative architectural integration with the built environment. Transsolar is a climate engineering firm dedicated to creation of the highest aesthetic impact with the lowest ecological consequences. Raval has been involved in several important projects with the firm, focusing his skills on designs for optimal energy consumption through creative architectural and engineering design solutions. He recently developed climate concepts for the Center for Sustainable Urban Living at Loyola University in Chicago with architecture firm, Solomon Cordwell Buenz. The student housing complex, set to open this fall, consumes 50 percent less energy through green initiatives that harvest its outdoor environment for the benefit of its indoor climate. Register for the symposium and see the complete Facades+PERFORMANCE schedule.
French Pritzker Prize–winning architect Jean Nouvel's design for Louvre Abu Dhabi has begun construction after a series of delays. The building's most prominent feature is a 180-meter-diameter dome. The design of the dome is culturally relevant as well as utilitarian. The shape is prominent in traditional Arabian architecture. As the Louvre Abu Dhabi website describes, it is “an emblematic feature...evoking the mosque, the mausoleum, and the madrasa.” The dome's expanse also protects the building and its visitors from the sun. Carefully formulated geometric apertures in the all-white structure allow diffused and dappled daylight inside the museum, while mitigating heat gain. Nouvel designed the dappled pattern to emulate interlaced palm fronds, which are traditionally used in Arabic countries for thatch roofs. Nouvel described his vision for the 64,000 square meter site thus:
"A microclimate is created by drawing on sensations that have been explored countless times in great Arab architecture, which is based on the mastery of light and geometry . . . a structure made up of shadows, of movement and discovery."Nouvel was awarded the design commission for the Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2010. It was originally meant to be completed in 2012. However, in January of that year, the Financial Times reported that after a "the conclusion of a government spending review led by Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, vice-chairman of the executive council," the Tourism Development & Investment Company in Abu Dhabi set the museum back 3 years to 2015. Set on Saadiyat Island, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first of three art museum branches meant to shore up the area as a cultural hub within the United Arab Emirates. However, all have faced major delays and completion dates pushed years into the future. All renderings courtesy Atelier Jean Nouvel.
Lessons From Modernism is the smartest and most compelling exhibition ever mounted in New York (and maybe anywhere) on the influence of nature and the environment in architectural design. This Cooper Union exhibition looks at and analyzes 25 iconic modern buildings from architects like Le Corbusier, Paul Rudolph, Jean Prouvé, and Oscar Niemeyer. Conceived and curated by Cooper Union Professor Kevin Bone, Lessons From Modernism brilliantly demonstrates how these and other important modern architects integrated environmental concerns into their designs and "explores the extent to which these practices have produced environmentally performative and distinctive architecture." Staged in a school known for its formal architectural inventions it makes the case that environmental design has long been a a foregrounded consideration in the creation of architecture and not something created by by the United States Building Council and its LEED certification process. Professor Bone has created a valuable time line of major landmarks in the environmental design movement and directed his students to produce precise and beautiful models of these 25 buildings. The exhibition includes analytical drawings illustrating the sustainable design issues within each project in the show and includes texts by Professor Bone, Kenneth Frampton, Lydia Kallipoliti, and Carl Stein. The show runs through March 23 so run to see it before it vanishes.