Posts tagged with "NBBJ":

Placeholder Alt Text

West Coast architecture firms are a hotbed for virtual reality applications

Though digital modeling and documentation tools have been an integral part of architectural practice for decades, until recently, visualization tools hewed closely to traditional elements of two-dimensional representation. Several firms and independent practitioners, however, are striving to adopt virtual reality (VR) as a design tool.

At the corporate level, established firms like Gensler and NBBJ are setting up in-house VR departments and standing to benefit from their corporate heft and connections.

NBBJ’s Seattle office recently launched a business partnership with construction industry start up Visual Vocal to incubate and develop what the firm referred to as a “breakthrough virtual reality productivity platform.” The tool aims to streamline the firm’s collaborative design process by allowing clients on-demand access to project information and design updates. NBBJ Managing Partner Steve McConnell described the firm’s approach in a press release: “This partnership will radically shift the way design feedback is sourced and integrated into projects, and the speed at which it can be done. As a result, we can more broadly and deeply engage project stakeholders.… Virtual reality will deepen design discourse and bring together communities in new and exciting ways.”

Gensler’s Los Angeles office has taken the opposite approach, creating a virtual reality department that engages with existing VR technologies, looping the latest design tools into Gensler’s corporate workflow as they come online. Gensler’s San Francisco office utilized VR to create a highly detailed climate model as it designed a new headquarters for computer graphics card maker Nvidia. Alan Robles, experience designer in charge of VR technologies at Gensler’s L.A. office, described the firm’s efforts as an attempt to streamline the use of VR as a design tool, calling VR the “next logical evolution for rendering technologies.” Gensler integrates VR into its workflow early in the conceptual diagram stage while also pairing Unity software with Autodesk Revit later in the process to bring designers and clients directly into a working digital model where design options can be updated in real time.

The firm’s VR capabilities are also being utilized in the ongoing design of the new Los Angeles Football Club stadium in South Los Angeles, where Gensler’s team was able to integrate VR design approaches early into the design process to communicate possible sponsorship opportunities and overall project concept. VR is incorporated into the conceptual design phases, making Gensler’s approach toward VR basically one of normalizing the technology as a design tool. The evolution of project concepts in VR takes off from there, with the technology being deployed as necessary to convey design intent. These efforts result in a custom app made by Gensler’s in-house team that clients can use as a personalized marketing and development tool.

Operating in a parallel stream, a school of emerging designers has taken up VR as a key visualization and production tool.

Güvenç Özel, principal at Özel Office, made use of VR in a recent competition proposal made for NASA. His NASA 3D-Printed Habitat project, runner-up in the competition, creates a VR environment to convey its design intention and functionality. The project, showcased at the Architecture and Design Museum’s recent exhibition, Come In! DTLA, allowed observers to wear VR headsets to explore the scheme: A space capsule 3-D-printed from martian rock and occupied as an operating base for astronaut-explorer scientists.

Özel, who spoke to AN via email, described VR’s potential impact on architecture in no uncertain terms, saying, “The immersiveness of these digital environments are becoming so convincing that they start to exist as environments in their own right. I am convinced that the architecture of our near future involves physical and digital spaces superimposed on each other, and will further blur the lines between what is interface design and what is architectural design.” Designer Devin Gharakhanian, in collaboration with VR specialist Nels Long, presented Room XYZ at this year’s One-NightStand L.A. showcase, utilizing VR to recontextualize an all-white room into a variety of experiences. The project, in a different iteration, places the viewer into a precise, virtual recreation of an elaborately staged room. For the two architecturally-trained artists, the works serve to explore existential architectural issues directly.

Adding to this inertia, is a growing stock of interdisciplinary, VR-focused coworking spaces and organizations that are coalescing across L.A., where the edges of the visualization, filmmaking, and architectural professions run into one another, like Virtual Reality Los Angeles, Navel.la, and RotoLab. With the recent announcement by computing giant Intel of a new collaboration with Microsoft aimed at developing VR capabilities for Windows-based machines and plans to open an L.A. research studio, the future of VR is here—and it’s very real. 

Placeholder Alt Text

Basket builders vacate Ohio's famous basket building

After nearly twenty years, the Longaberger Company, makers of wooden baskets, will be moving out of its trademark Longaberger "Medium Market Basket" shaped building in Newark, Ohio. Designed by the Longaberger Company, with NBBJ as architects of record, the corporate headquarters sits just about 40 miles north of Columbus. At 160 times larger than the basket it is based on, the seven-story building has 180,000 square feet of office. Longaberger will be moving its workers to its nearby manufacturing facility in Frazeysburg, OH. The Big Basket, as it is referred to, is an example of novelty, or programmatic architecture. Though built in the 1990s, examples of novelty buildings stretch back more than 100 years, and include the Tail o’the Pup hot dog stand in Los Angeles and Lucy the Elephant in Somers, New York. Another example is the Big Duck of Flanders, New York, made infamous by Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi’s theories on the “duck,” describing buildings which combine their function with their shape as a symbol of that function. As such, ducks and duck eggs are sold in the Big Duck. As reported by the Columbus Dispatch, the basket company has a back tax debt of $570,000. If that amount is not eventually paid, the county could repossess the property and sell it in a sheriff’s auction. The starting bid would be set at the tax amount plus court costs. At around $600,000, that would make the building possibly the most expensive picnic basket ever sold, but an excellent bargain for an office building.
Placeholder Alt Text

NBBJ's "generative" courtyard office headquarters for Samsung

The two 10-story towers are clad in white metal and clear glass, carefully balanced to reduce solar heat gain and provide a sense of lightness.

Samsung’s new North American headquarters, designed by NBBJ, is a landmark facility in Silicon Valley embracing new urban guidelines developed by San Jose officials to prioritize active streets and environmental sensitivity. The project creates a sense of lightness with a transparent, environmentally responsible facade, and has been used as a case study project within NBBJ’s international network of offices. The compound is composed of two ten-story towers designed around an interior courtyard and floating open-air gardens. The architects adopted the diagram of a semiconductor as inspiration for the building, defined by an energized void space between separated slabs. Connecting stairs located at every two floors establish a centralized “3-D Main Street” linked by pocket parks. The ground floor extends an open public program into the adjacent city, providing a connection to the tech community. Despite working in a ten-story office tower, Samsung employees are never farther than one story from outdoor space. Utilizing a courtyard typology to maximize daylight and natural ventilation into a flexible open office layout, the project anticipates LEED Gold certification. The facade system for the facility plays a significant role in the project, achieving three key functions: encouraging social interaction, communicating a brand identity, and sensitively responding to the environment by incorporating renewable energy and managing solar conditions.
  • Facade Manufacturer Benson
  • Architects NBBJ
  • Facade Installer Benson
  • Facade Consultants ARUP
  • Location San Jose, CA
  • Date of Completion 2015
  • System white metal, glass exterior unitized panel
  • Products unitized curtain wall products (painted aluminum & glazed curtain wall), TS & metal stud framed with ceramic tile and plaster finishes.
Rather than designing an all-glass facade, NBBJ developed a white metal, glass, and terracotta exterior with an undulating gradient of punched window openings responsive to environmental criteria. For example, the building orientation is aligned to San Jose’s city grid, which is rotated off a north-south axis, causing direct heat gain to be managed across multiple facades. This assisted with solar heat gain concerns and established an aesthetic identity for Samsung’s headquarters. The interior facade is noticeably more transparent, utilizing a floor to ceiling glazing system. Collaborating with ARUP, NBBJ designed the facade to be a shop-built assembly—it was craned into place, ensuring a high-quality, controlled assembly process. The architects teamed with Benson, who fabricated the facade panels. The building is formally very simple, but becomes activated by people, fostering a collaborative environment. This is a “generative” building, designed for flexibility to allow for as many new ideas as possible. A collaborative, interactive spirit drove the project’s design from the start. The outcome is an open, tolerant, flexible building that enables possibilities and drives innovation.
Placeholder Alt Text

NBBJ's just-opened Samsung headquarters seeks urbanism in Silicon Valley

Samsung’s new North American headquarters in San Jose is now open for business. Designed by NBBJ, the 1.1 million-square-foot, $300 million building presents itself as a counterpoint to the introverted campuses that dot Silicon Valley: Facebook’s self-contained, Gehry-ific HQ or Foster’s secluded spaceship for Apple. Unveiled in 2013, the design went from concept to construction in rapid time. According to the architects, the designers and Samsung worked closely with the city to create a scheme that supports the city’s urban design mandate for densification, walkability, and bikeability. (AN recently reported that San Jose also has a mandate to generate jobs, a mission that is at times at cross-purposes with the need for housing in the region.) The building is sited to connect to the city’s light-rail system. The design is meant to encourage employees to leave their desks at lunch and walk across the landscaped gardens to the cafeteria, to engage just a bit in the activities of urban life. And the inverse is also true. A courtyard in the middle of the office block (the building reveals itself to be two bar buildings connected by bridges on alternating floors) is open to the public and will offer retail amenities. Samsung’s 2,000 employees can look out through the interior glass facade at the choreography of everyday life passing through the South Korean company’s own Piazza del Campo. “The world’s largest electronics company is changing itself into innovator. This brought about a need to change the internal culture of the workplace,” explained Scott Wyatt, the NBBJ partner in charge in the firm’s Seattle office who led the workplace strategy. “We asked ourselves ‘How can a building help them compete for talent and enable innovation?’” For Wyatt the answer on view in San Jose suggests that open floor plates, and connection to the outdoors both physically and visually, and interaction between employees promotes health and performance. Moreover, the design responds to a need for architecture flexible enough to accommodate team-based work and, in trendy workplace parlance, mobility. As such, collaborative spaces face the courtyard while the more solo desks and focused work areas are located around the perimeter. The gradated window openings on the exterior facade are calibrated to the need for more or less daylight. “Work any time in any place, but in teams is changing how buildings are made,” he noted.
Placeholder Alt Text

Are floating houses the answer to London's housing crisis? 100 ideas for affordable housing to be showcased

Affordable housing is a hot-topic in Europe and across the world right now. To look for solutions, New London Architecture (NLA) launched a competition prompting architects, planners and citizens to submit ideas for the current housing crisis in London—and the entries are in. The competition attracted over 200 submissions from over 16 countries and NLA has released a list of 100 of the submitted schemes which include radical concepts from NBBJ, Rogers Stirk Harbour+Partners, and Grimshaw Architects, among others. Seattle-based NBBJ has proposed taking up 9,000 miles of London road to make way for residential housing whereas London practice dRMM advocate the implementation of floating houses. Infact dRMM weren't the only firm to take advantage of London's waterways. Baca Architects and the appropriately named, Floating Homes Ltd. suggested installing 7,500 prefab floating homes along the canal routes of London, something they say could be done in under a year. Floating architecture, it appears, is a powerful force in captivating the imaginations of architects. The competition hasn't just attracted architects however, property consultants GL Hearn propose constructing a megacity by the M25 highway that travels London to improve housing, retail, workspaces, and infrastructure links by 2050.
Building firm WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff says 630,000 new homes would be created by building housing on top of government institutions such as hospitals, schools, and libraries.
The list of 100 will be whittled down by the NLA to a select group of 10 which will be considered in further depth before an eventual winner is chosen. The 100 projects will go on display in London on Saturday 17th October.
Placeholder Alt Text

Walk this way: Architecture firm NBBJ proposes a moving sidewalk to replace London Underground Circle line

Architectural firm NBBJ has proposed a new three-lane moving sidewalk (or for the Brits, a travelator) system to replace 17-miles of the London Underground in a bid to decrease travel times and transport more people around London. Earlier this year, a plans for a London underground bike complex was ridiculed by the Guardian in its attempt to reduce congestion despite it winning best conceptual project at the London Planning Awards. With that in mind, NBBJ have boldly chosen to submit their idea which would feature three moving walkways traveling at different speeds. The nearest walkway to an entry platform would travel at a leisurely three miles per hour, accelerating to 9mph in lit tunnels. The project's main advantage over the current rail-based system, designers claim, is that the walkway wouldn't have to stop at the station—the ever moving track being slow enough for people to hop on and hop off. The idea could have potential to be dangerous with the sheer mass of people it aims to take on, not to mention the cost implications this would have for Transport for London. Tearing up track and making the Circle line's dark and dingy tunnels safe (let alone nice) to walk down would be no mean (or cheap) feat. Moving walkways do already exist in the London Underground system, in fact they have been present at Bank station for 55 years. NBBJ's proposal can also be seen as following on from the Trottoir roulant rapide ("fast moving walkway") at the Métro station Montparnasse-Bienvenüe in Paris. Nicknamed the "TGV," the Parisian example failed to garner success in the French capital, as the the Paris metro has had to pay out injury compensation in several cases. According to the BBC, many users of the TGV quickly ran on the moving surface despite a loudspeaker barking orders of "keep your feet flat on the ground, keep your feet flat on the ground." The failed project was replaced by a more conventional walkway in 2009. The effectiveness of travelators is also up for debate. In 2009 (a bad year for travelators it seems) the Daily Telegraph reported that research about moving walkways in airports indicated they actually slowed people down and that the time advantage was minimal. NBBJ still advocates the health benefits of walking between stations that such a moving walkway system might provide.
Placeholder Alt Text

NBBJ's New Orleans hospital embodies resilience

High performance and cultural relevance meet in concrete, metal, and steel mesh envelope.

For the stakeholders involved in building the new Rev. Avery C. Alexander Academic Research Hospital (also known as University Medical Center, or UMC) in downtown New Orleans, the project was about much more than replacing facilities damaged during Hurricane Katrina. "The grander story is the effort to rebuild New Orleans," recalled NBBJ principal Jose Sama. "There was a lot of emotional attachment to the original hospital, Charity Hospital, and also—rightly so—the pride the community has for the character of the city. Everyone wanted to make sure the project was going to be something that was of New Orleans." In a joint venture with Blitch Knevel Architects, NBBJ rose to the challenge with a design that subtly reflects the city's cultural heritage. The building envelope, a combination of precast concrete, metal panels, high performance glazing, and stainless steel mesh, contributed significantly to both the project's aesthetic aspirations and its performance goals. The overarching concept for UMC, explained Sama, was to "create a performance in place." For the architects, "performance" holds a double meaning. "Performance is embedded in [New Orleans] culture, but this is a more high-level sense of performance," said Sama. "Place," in turn, draws on the city's climate and character. "We looked at various clues in the urban environment and how those could affect the design," said Sama, recalling visits to the hospital's Canal Street neighborhood and the French Quarter. Then, of course, there are the environmental threats made all too clear by the Katrina experience. "We completed [the design] with the understanding that we had to create an envelope that could withstand hurricane-force winds and missile impact," said Sama. "That was an important piece of selecting the glass and the curtain wall system." In fact, most of the damage sustained by Charity Hospital was the result of flooding rather than high winds. As a result, the architects faced a mandate to elevate all critical hospital functions above 22 feet. "We envisioned this as a floating hospital," said Sama. "The notion was that the more public zones, the softer spaces like dining, registration, and the lobbies, would occur at the ground level. Then you move up to an elevated plane of critical services. That way they could function regardless of flooding." The building envelope reflects this programmatic move: The first floor of the central campus structure—the diagnostic and treatment center—is wrapped in a transparent curtain wall with a strong emphasis on the horizontal while the upper, critical floors feature a precast concrete facade. The two other project components, the medical office building and the inpatient towers, offer variations on the theme. The former is clad in an insulated metal panel system, the latter in precast concrete, glass, and stainless steel mesh.
  • Facade Manufacturer Harmon (window walls), Centria (metal panels), Cambridge Architectural (metal mesh)
  • Architects NBBJ, Blitch Knevel Architects
  • Facade Installer F.L. Crane & Sons (metal panels, diagnostic building), Crown Corr (metal panels, clinic), Harmon (glazing), River City Erectors (metal mesh)
  • Facade Consultants IBA Consultants
  • Location New Orleans, LA
  • Date of Completion August 2015
  • System precast concrete and metal panels with high performance curtain walls and stainless steel mesh accents
  • Products Harmon window wall systems, Centria insulated metal panels, Cambridge Architectural mesh in Mid-Balance, Scale, and Shade
A number of subtle gestures connect the hospital exterior to New Orleans' history and culture. One thing Sama noticed on his site visits was that "the notion of the garden is important, and the notion of getting outdoors." With that in mind, the architects created a central entry pavilion "designed such that you have a very pronounced sense of entry created by a porch, or a projecting eave—it almost has the effect of a trellis," said Sama. They also created informal gardens wherever possible. The signature garden, nestled between the towers and the diagnostic center, is water-based, and imagines the seating areas as lily pads floating on a pond. "The idea that here in the middle of New Orleans you find a water-intensive garden was really critical," said Sama. The patient towers, too, embody a strong connection to the outdoors via balconies for patients and staff. Metal scrims in Cambridge Architectural's Mid-Balance architectural mesh simultaneously provide aesthetic interest and fall protection. "We studied what we could do with the scrim," said Sama. "We think we picked just the right scale. It's appropriate for someone sitting on the balcony, but also for someone walking by." The mesh panels produce a "soft veil effect," he observed. "In the morning light, it glistens. The intent was to create a memory of Mardi Gras beads, in terms of color and glistening. People will pick up on that different times of day." Cambridge Architectural contributed to several other elements of the project. Mesh fins in the Scale pattern are attached with a custom cable tensioning system to the upper levels of the patient towers, to provide solar shading. On the parking garage portion, designed by Blitz Knevel Architects, 86 panels of Scale mesh again add both visual impact and fall protection without compromising ventilation. On the south elevation of the garage leading to the UMC helipad, a custom-built shade mesh fin system cuts solar gain and glare. Many of the references embedded in the new UMC hospital—the way in which the towers' orientations recall traditional New Orleans shotgun houses, or the connection between the stainless steel mesh and Mardi Gras beads—are so understated as to operate on almost a subliminal level. But like the city itself, the building comes alive at night, finally, and literally, revealing its true colors. "The building from the outside is very neutral," explained Sama. But thanks to accent colors on the inpatient tower stairs, revealed through translucent glass, plus accent lighting on the bulkheads above, after dark the towers shine, he explained. "The whole point was that at night they would glow with color from within."
Placeholder Alt Text

From fortress to town square: Los Angeles launches a competition to remake Pershing Square

Ricardo Legorreta’s much maligned design for Pershing Square is getting a makeover. The day after the Los Angeles City Council voted to support a public-private partnership to overhaul the five-acre urban park, councilmember José Huizar and Pershing Square Renew announced an international design competition geared to rethink the open space that now sits ingloriously on top of an underground parking garage. The design competition grew out of a task force established by Huizar, which members of the design, development, and policy communities, including Macarlane Partners, Gensler, NBBJ, JFM Development, LA Recreation & Parks, and the Urban Land Institute. MacFarlane Partners, which is developing 99,000 square-foot site overlooking the square, pledged $1 million pledge to seed Pershing Square Renew. The Department of Recreation and Parks earmarked $1 million for “immediate future for infrastructure improvements and amenities.” In 2013, AN published a series of renderings by Gensler of a reimagined Pershing Square. Rather than being an early entry into the contest, that design was a catalyst for recognizing the space’s potential. The firm is now the Urban Design Advisor to Pershing Square Renew and cannot participate in the competition. Remarks by Huizar at a city hall press conference emphasized the need for community input at every stage of the design process. The stakeholders in Downtown Los Angeles in 2015 are vastly different from 1992 when Legoretta’s project opened. The goal is to make the square more welcoming and accessible to all users. Because there are more residents and businesses downtown, the competition brief stresses that the park needs to accommodate a number of uses at any time of day or night. In early 2015, Project for Public Spaces hosted a series of outreach events and workshops, and a report of activities and programmatic vision is included as part of the competition brief materials. “The architecture doesn’t support use now,” said Huizar of Legorreta’s belltower and brightly colored walls. Frustrated at how “fortress-like” the existing park seems, he hopes instead for a town square. “Use informs design, not design informs use,” he noted. The brief and accompanying report suggests that proposed designs could incorporate surrounding roadways and sidewalks, with occasional street closures for events. One challenge for all design proposals is how to tackle the ramps leading into the parking structure; a hurdle that Gensler’s Brian Glodney described as “Like a moat.” The competition also raises some tough questions about the role of architecture in relationship to placemaking and community engagement. “Our intention is not to create a masterpiece, but to create a canvas that invites the community to create their own masterpieces in how they use the space,” said Eduardo Santana, executive director of Pershing Square Renew. The competition asks for letters of interest to be submitted this month, followed by a request for qualifications in October. A shortlist of firms will be asked to submit proposals to a jury. Finalists will present to the jury in February with a winner announced later that month. The renewed Pershing Square is planned to open in 2020.
Placeholder Alt Text

Video> Historic hotel demolished to clear way for Detroit's new Red Wings hockey arena

The implosion of an historic Detroit hotel on Saturday helped clear the way for a $650 million hockey arena that developers say will more than pay for itself in economic ripple effects, but critics see the demolition as the latest casualty of an ill-conceived scheme receiving public financing. COURTESY OLYMPIA DEVELOPMENT OF MICHIGAN The Red Wings will skate in a new arena slated to open in September 2017, the team and owner Mike Ilitch announced last year with splashy renderings and a pledge to "stabilize and develop dozens of underutilized blocks, create more jobs more quickly, and allow the city to spend public funds on other priorities.” But coming just weeks after Detroit became the largest city to declare bankruptcy in U.S. history, the Red Wings' management came under fire for their plan to use $283 million in public money (mostly in the form of tax increment financing). Vacant since 2003, the 13-story Park Avenue Hotel apparently stood in the way of the new arena's loading dock. Designed by Louis Kamper and completed in 1924, the Park Avenue Hotel was demolished over the weekend, its collapse captured in the drone video above. Since its glory days as a symbol of glitz in ascendant Detroit, the hotel had become a senior housing center and later a rehab facility. Locals gathered to bid the building farewell, reports the Detroit Free-Press. Meanwhile the public financing of arenas including the Red Wings' has sparked debate about whether wealthy private interests need such incentives from cash-strapped municipalities and states. The same day Detroit leveled the Park Avenue Hotel, late-night comedian John Oliver ridiculed the taxpayer funding of sports arenas on HBO, calling out the Red Wings and Ilitch in particular. The Red Wings responded today with a statement, saying "This project is about so much more than a world-class sports and entertainment arena; it's about transforming a core part of our city for the benefit of the entire community.” They did not, however, address Oliver's disdain for Little Caesars pizza, which Ilitch founded. 05-detroit-red-wings-district 04-detroit-red-wings-district
Placeholder Alt Text

In the office of the future, you can ride your bike to your desk, says global architecture firm NBBJ

In pondering the post-2025 office of the future, global architecture firm NBBJ believes in the power of "nudge architecture" as a counterpoint to alienating corporate culture and sedentary cubicle lifestyles. Asked by Fast Company to envisage the workplace a decade from now, the firm responded with a design where fitness and face-to-face social interactions are at the forefront. The firm projected bike paths throughout the building that would allow workers to ride their bikes right up to their desks, with ramps at every entrance. “The key ingredient is mobility, as we’re going to be wearing our computers, screens and everything else,” said NBBJ chair and partner Scott Wyatt. “But even today we have spectacular mobility as we aren’t chained to desks, file cabinets and computers. We can start to create spaces that better respond to human needs.” In a bid to dissipate hierarchical divides, stairs and elevators will be eliminated in favor of building atop a seamless, switch-backing incline. This graded layout means no more ensconcing of respective departments – Finance, HR, Management and Sales will have to learn to tolerate one another’s society. Ramps leading from one staggered “level” to the next create “extensive sight lines” where co-workers have more opportunity to interact, maintains NBBJ. According to Fast Company, the idea riffs off the long-held ‘Allen Curve’ theory, which estimates that workers are four times more likely to communicate with someone who is six feet away than a colleague who is 60 feet away, and unlikely to ever debrief at the water cooler with someone on another floor. The firm’s more conventional suggestions include bringing the outdoors indoors with exposure to indoor plants and natural light. There is talk of using dynamically shaded glass that adapts to changes in brightness gradations – which could allow for an all-glass edifice (roof included). NBBJ gets sci-fi creative with its suggestions of a building that is entirely responsive to user’s needs. As an example, the firm envisions sensors that differentiate between quiet and loud zones. This information is then relayed to a computer that shifts the floor plates accordingly to shape these spaces in real-time. The firm takes the mobility concept further with conference rooms that not only self-assemble when needed, but can migrate workers around large complexes during meetings so that you don’t need to walk from one building to another in a large campus-style office. The focus is on space-saving economies, said NBBJ partner Ryan Mullenix – and not yet another technological invention providing a ready excuse not to walk. “When you don’t have to fill 50 percent of your space with conference rooms, things can begin to move."
Placeholder Alt Text

Designing Facades for a Changing Environment

When it comes to responding to climate change, said Stacey Hooper, senior associate at NBBJ, architects have tended to be more reactive than proactive. "Our industry is so insular," she explained. "As a profession, we're really interested in the coolest, newest thing—not necessarily how we're going to support these bigger global challenges." Hooper had this in mind when she sat down with co-chair Luke Smith (Enclos) and the rest of the planning team to lay out the inaugural Facades+ LA conference, taking place in February in downtown Los Angeles. "We were talking about, 'Who are the influencers?'—not just in the building industry," recalled Hooper. "Where will real influence come from?" Hooper, who has practiced in California for more than a decade, includes government regulations high on the list of changemakers. "The state has been pecking away at energy consumption standards for 40 years," she noted. At the local level, Los Angeles has struggled to push through energy measures, water standards in particular. A representative from city government will deliver an introductory address on day 1 of Facades+ LA. "It seemed like a good introduction to a conference here to bring in a government body to talk about the necessity [of energy standards]," said Hooper. The tech industry has also made an impact, especially in California. "At NBBJ we see the influence of things like Silicon Valley; industry-driven change," said Hooper. "There's a need for high-tech workers, and they're being very demanding about what their environment is. That's a good thing because that demand drives change." Then there are the individual examples. Hooper mentions the Historic Green Village on Anna Maria Island in Florida, which achieved LEED Platinum and Net Zero Energy for its first 18 months of operation. "You have these smaller influencers that build into something big," she observed. "These are all great role models for the profession. The client is another piece of the environmental puzzle. Hooper recalls working on ZGF's Conrad N. Hilton Foundation building in Agoura Hills, California, designed to exceed LEED Platinum Certification. When the mechanical engineer told the team  that direct sunlight could harm the building's passive mechanical system, the architects followed up with a series of digital studies before importing an exterior system from Germany. "That's my benchmark I'm thinking about now," said Hooper. "When I get asked, 'Where's curtain wall going?' I say, "'It's not doing enough; let's start thinking about things in a different way.'" Thinking about things in a different way is where the architect comes into the picture, said Hooper. "It's a great privilege and a real challenge," she explained. "You need to be able to leverage design thinking to really serve the environment, and serve humans at an individual scale. That's what I love about working on envelopes: it starts at this big citywide level, then it manifests in these finite details in our built environment." To learn more about Facades+ LA or to register, visit the conference website.
Placeholder Alt Text

November 11> Sustainability, Innovation, and More at Facades+ AM Seattle

As AEC professionals who have practiced in different cities know, each place has its own unique architectural culture. That is one of the lessons Mic Patterson, VP of Strategic Development at Enclos, has learned during his years of involvement with the Facades+ conference series. “Instead of holding one annual conference, we’ve been doing three a year in different cities,” said Patterson. “My observation is that each of those has been different.” The newest event in the Facades+ stable, Facades+ AM, was inspired in part by a desire to bring the conversation about high performance facade design to more locales. The inaugural Facades+ AM four-hour program takes place next week in Seattle. “Everywhere makes sense to talk about building envelopes,” said Kerry Hegedus, architect at NBBJ and seminar chair of Facades+ AM Seattle. At the same time, he added, “in Seattle, we have a great architectural community that can be very experimental and, most importantly, aspirational. We need a forum like this to share these thoughts and developments.” A prime example of the seaport city’s aspirational architecture is the Bullitt Center, the subject of one of three panels at Facades+AM Seattle. Designed by Miller Hull and often referred to as “the greenest office building in the world,” the Bullitt Center embodies a no-holds-barred approach to sustainable design. “The Bullitt Foundation is that missing link the profession needs to evolve to a new, higher density, sustainable future,” said Hegedus. “We will find, I suspect, that this is not just a skin, but an integral part of the strategy of how this living building became a success. We need to build on this project’s great success.” But while some of the Facades+ AM program next week will be specific to Seattle, much of the discussion will hold value for designers and builders working in different contexts. More importantly, the lack of a script makes way for spontaneous, collaborative problem-solving. Speaking of another panel, on innovations in facade design and construction, Hegedus observed: “The beauty of this format, with this wildcard ‘Facade Futures,’ is that we don’t know what is going to come out of this.” To learn more about Facades+ AM or to register, visit the event website.