Posts tagged with "Sustainability":

Placeholder Alt Text

This dying mall in Silicon Valley will be reborn with a 30-acre blanket of green roofs including a vineyard, orchard, and walking trails

Green roofs these days are the new blacktops. And just when you thought they couldn't get any bigger, there are now plans to build a 30-acre park blanketing a mixed-use, $3 billion development in Cupertino, California. Right now, the site is the dying Vallco Shopping Mall. Developers Sand Hill Property bought the mall last year and hired Rafael Viñoly and Olin Landscape Architects to redevelop the 50 acre site. "[Sand Hill] didn’t quite know what they would get when Viñoly traveled to their offices in Menlo Park last April for a first-round presentation," wrote the Silicon Valley Business Journal. "While other architects came armed with reams of site plans and renderings, Viñoly had a suitcase. In it was a model of his concept, which he assembled piece by piece, topping it off with the roof park." Renderings show a rolling lush carpet of green capping a 15-block grid of buildings below. But that green is not just a lawn. The rooftop park will feature quite an unusual mix of amenities: a vineyard, close to four miles of trails, an orchard, a playground, as well as lots of oak trees. Plans also include 800 apartments and over 250,000 square feet of retail. There are multiple plazas, a market hall, 2 million square feet of offices, and parking mostly below ground. The highest point in the development would top out at seven stories. "To secure the community buy-in, the developer is going all-out, promising to contribute more than $40 million to build a new K-5 elementary school, replace portable classrooms and provide an “innovation center” to the Fremont Union High School District, among other goodies," reported the SVBJ.
Placeholder Alt Text

Net Zero and the Future of Facade Design

Though sustainability remains a primary goal for many AEC industry professionals, its definition is increasingly up for debate. Tried-and-true energy efficiency standards such as LEED and Energy Star are facing competition from other rubrics, including net zero. "LEED was the sustainability measure," said CO Architects' Alex Korter. "It's good, but people looked at it more as a certification. With net zero, you're setting hard performance goals." With his colleague Kevin Kavanagh, Korter will lead a panel on "Net Zero and the Future Facade" at Facades+ LA next week. Korter, Kavanagh, and the panelists—who include ARUP's Russell Fortmeyer, Atelier 10's Emilie Hagen, and Stephane Hoffman from Morrison Hershfield—will dig in to the what and why of net zero, and ask how facade designers and builders can push the envelope on environmental performance. Both Korter and Kavanagh see room for improvement in terms of how facade designers and fabricators address sustainability. "Something that we've talked about—and something that will get us in a bit of trouble—is that we don't think the envelope world has done well in terms of upping performance," said Korter. Part of the problem is the focus on checking boxes for energy certifications, rather than setting concrete goals. Even in the world of net zero, said Kavanagh, "the facade is often looked at as an insulating layer, and is relegated to a high-performance insulating component. Our argument is that if you want to maximize net zero, architects and developers really need to rethink their approach to building. Why are facades trying to get as thin as possible? It makes sense for an Apple Store, but for other buildings, why not a two-foot-thick facade with [integrated mechanicals]?" The logical extension of the critique posed by Korter and Kavanagh is, as Kavanagh put it, "Is it possible for a facade to make a building net zero?" But to get there, the two say, designers and fabricators will need a push as well as a pull. "The way this is really going to happen is that the code tells you to, or the building owner—the person who pays the bill—starts to make it their number one priority," said Korter. "Those are the two ways. We've been dancing in this nebulous time: We could do it, but do we really have to?" Hear more from facades experts on net zero and other pressing issues next week at Facades+ LA. To learn more and register, visit the conference website.
Placeholder Alt Text

OMA designs a Food Hub for a Louisville food desert

Kentucky ranks 17th in the nation for household food insecurity, according to Feeding America Kentucky's Heartland, a local charity. In West Louisville, where nearly half of residents live in poverty, a nonprofit developer is hoping to change that with the help of some high-profile architects. Seed Capital Kentucky's plan is an OMA-designed “Food Hub” on an abandoned plot of land once used to cut and dry tobacco. Mayor Greg Fischer last year gave them a 24-acre vacant parcel of land in the West End worth $1.2 million for the project, which he called "a green job-generating machine for west Louisville." The project could create about 250 permanent jobs and 270 construction jobs, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. WDRB first reported last week that the hub's designers include OMA and local firm GBBN Architects. The Fox affiliate reported Seed Capital Kentucky is $1 million into their $20 million fundraising goal, seeking $46 million in total, including future fundraising phases. That money would go to several programs, including a food bank, retailers, and a biodigester that turns organic waste into heat and energy. So far four organizations are formally on board: KHI Foods, Jefferson County Cooperative Extension, Star Distributed Energy, and the Weekly Juicery. The site, at South 30th Street between Muhammad Ali Boulevard and Market Street, is in a USDA-certified food desert. Seed Capital Kentucky founder Stephen Reily hopes the Food Hub will help alleviate hunger and stoke investment in the neighborhood. "Our vision for this project is one that collapses a lot of those middle men and transactions into one place where they can all work together to help create more fresh, regional food and help our region feed itself more sustainably," he told WDRB.
Placeholder Alt Text

2014 European Solar Decathlon Announces Winners

The 2014 European Solar Decathlon has come to an end, and the international student competition to design cutting edge solar houses has produced a winner: Team Rhome of Universitá Degli Studi di Roma TRE. Their house, called Rhome for denCity, received a mark of 840.63 out of 1,000 maximum points, edging out the runner-up proposals by a slim margin. Second place went to Philéas by France's Atlantic Challenge and third place to Prêt-à-Loger by TU Delft. Philéas received a score of 839.75 points, coming in only just short of the victors and first place winners Rhome for denCity. The first place Rhome for denCity house is designed as a top floor apartment in the prototype stage that is meant to be a part of a four-story housing project. The house efficiently uses solar panels to power the house whilst relying on natural ventilation to cool its inhabitants. Its design, albeit modest, is pleasant and the house itself could serve as an outline for future sustainable houses. The European Solar Decathlon also gave out six awards for the winners of certain categories such as architecture and engineering/construction. The Dutch team TU Delft took the award for sustainability and communications with their third place entry: Prêt-à-Loger. France’s Athletic Challenge also won in the category of energy efficiency with their second place entry, Philéas.

Video> Facade design experts discuss sustainability, energy efficiency

Today's facade designers cannot afford to ignore the question of sustainability, and in particular energy efficiency. James O'Callaghan (Eckersley O'Callaghan), William Logan (Israel Berger & Associates), and Will Laufs (LaufsED) sat down with our partners at Enclos during April's facades+ NYC conference to talk about the push and pull between aesthetics and environmental performance in building envelopes. Top AEC professionals will continue the conversation at facades+ Chicago on July 24–25. For more information or to register, visit the conference website. Early Bird registration ends June 29.
Placeholder Alt Text

Chicago’s ‘Green Healthy Neighborhoods’ plan moves forward

Chicago’s plan to revitalize troubled South Side neighborhoods with green infrastructure, urban farming and transit-friendly development is moving ahead. The city’s Plan Commission heard a presentation last week on the Green Healthy Neighborhoods program, which in 2011 announced its attention to lure investment to the Englewood, Woodlawn and Washington Park neighborhoods (read AN’s coverage here). While the urban agriculture component initially grabbed headlines—renderings show an old rail line repurposed as the “New Era Trail,” which would link urban farms and community gardens with a park-like promenade—the wide-ranging proposals also include developing retail clusters around transit nodes and street improvements for bikers and pedestrians. Funding is still up in the air, but the project will seek financing through the department of Housing and Urban Development’s Sustainable Communities Initiative. You can see the full plan here.
Placeholder Alt Text

Pioneering British Supermarket Appears Destined for an Early Demise

A British supermarket once lauded for its ingenuity and pioneering nature is now on the chopping block with a Swedish invader looming. When it was completed, the Greenwich branch of UK Mega-chain Sainsbury's was hailed as a breakthrough in eco-design and shortlisted for a prestigious Stirling Prize. Yet in early March the city council approved plans to demolish the structure in order to pave the way for a new IKEA warehouse outlet. The building was designed by Paul Hinkin during his time at Chetwoods Architects. Upon opening in 1999 it became the country's first retail space to receive an "excellent" BREEAM (roughly the British equivalent of LEED) rating. Design features contributing to this assessment include a reed bed that collects rainwater for use in the store, a liberal hand with recycled materials throughout the interior, and on-site wind turbines. Having since launched his own firm, Hinkin is passionate about preserving his 14 year old creation. Speaking from British sustainable building trade show Ecobuild, he vowed to "fight this until the wrecking ball goes through the roof," and called the decision to demolish "totally and utterly indefensible." Hinkin is not alone in this battle, as a campaign to save the structure has been brewing since November once it appeared that it might be under threat. In late February advocates for preserving the market put in a somewhat audacious bid to English Heritage to have the store listed as a Grade II, the second highest grade the organization bestows upon builds that are "particularly important...and of more than special interest." Approval would make the supermarket the youngest recipient of the honor. In light of the Greenwich Council's rulings these efforts would seem to heretofore have been in vain. Sainsbury's decision to sell the site on the condition that it not be filled by another food retailer essentially seals the fate of a structure that was explicitly designed for that purpose. In an essay written for the UK Green Building Council, Hinkin described bespoke, function-specific structures as a key component of his sustainable architectural philosophy. While they may be sustainable in the short-term, the problems buildings designed along such precepts eventually have in adapting to new programs would appear to make them decidedly unsustainable in the long term. The early success and what appears to be an increasingly likely untimely end of the Greenwich Sainsbury's illustrate the immediate benefits and eventual issues destined to plague this approach.
Placeholder Alt Text

Andropogon’s Dual Design for Sustainability, Recreation in Philly

The Philadelphia Water Department wanted a 3 million gallon sewer overflow tank. Neighbors wanted maintenance of current community recreational space. Now, landscape architecture firm Andropogon has split the difference for Philadelphia residents concerned with the fate of Lower Venice Island. Using high performance landscape design, the firm has envisioned the 5-acre island between the Schuylkill River and the Manayunk Canal as a space for both water maintenance and for community promenade and play. In collaboration with the Philadelphia Water Department and the Manayunk Development Corporation, designs for the stretch of Philadelphia waterfront are “fluid” in their “integration of both uses of the area,” describes the city’s Grid Magazine. Andropogon renders the land still with an EPA-mandated sewer overflow basin, but combines active and passive landscape design to provide additional function as a public green space. This intelligent planning sees the landscape with its water-locked environment in mind. Solutions for stormwater retention and wastewater overflow are incorporated into the design. Gardens and children’s water features run along a central, lighted pedestrian walkway, which also manages the flow of rainwater. A 250-seat performing arts center by Buell Kratzer Powell is raised 7 feet above the island’s floodway and plans for riverbank restoration further protect the area as a space for community recreation. Transforming a water development project to enhance a public play area, Andropogon’s sustainable landscape design serves both sides of the Venice Island debate.
Placeholder Alt Text

Morphosis Selected To Design New U.S. Embassy in Beirut

Three years after an unsuccessful bid for a chance to design the U.S. Embassy in London, Morphosis Architects has won a different Department of State project: a new Embassy for Beirut, Lebanon. The firm was selected from a shortlist that also included Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Mack Scogin Merrill Elam/AECOM. The new Embassy will be located near the current facilities in Awkar, roughly seven miles from Beirut. The Embassy moved away from the capital in 1983, following a suicide bomb attack that killed 49 Embassy staff. A second bombing in 1984 killed 11. Restrictions on American travel to Lebanon were not lifted until 1997, seven years after the official end of the Lebanese civil war. U.S. Department of State spokesperson Christine Foushee said that while the history of the Embassy in Beirut is unique, the security requirements of the new building will not differ significantly from other Embassy projects. Every major project built by the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations (OBO) must meet certain security standards in order to qualify for funding from Congress, she explained. The OBO put out a public call for submissions as part of its Excellence in Diplomatic Facilities initiative. “All of the designers that were short-listed, we feel, are very capable of incorporating [security] requirements,” Foushee said. “The real challenge, and the place where we were looking for innovation and creativity, was ensuring that the security requirements were met, but were integrated seamlessly into the design.” After seeing Morphosis’s proposal, the selection committee was confident that the firm would design a secure Embassy that “doesn’t look like a fortress,” she explained. The firm’s commitment to sustainability also impressed the OBO committee. According to Foushee, sustainable design, including planning for storm water and waste water management, is especially important in a project, like the new Embassy, that includes a housing component. Morphosis furthermore demonstrated an understanding of the OBO’s need for flexible interiors. “We have a need for sometimes accommodating a quick surge in staff,” Foushee said. An adaptable design will allow the Embassy to provide housing and office space for extra employees without additional construction. Finally, the design selection committee appreciated Morphosis’ experience working with technologies including 3D modeling. Integrating technology into the design process “is important for controlling costs, but also ensuring the quality of the project,” Foushee said. The design contract for the Beirut Embassy will be awarded during FY 2014, either before the new year or at the start of the 2014 calendar year, Foushee said. The construction contract will be awarded during FY 2016.
Placeholder Alt Text

Ultra-Sustainable Mushroom-Based Packaging Wins 2013 Buckminster Fuller Institute Challenge

Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre, co-founders of Ecovative, want the world of material packaging to enter “The Mushroom Age” and they have the approval of the Buckminster Fuller Institute. Founded in 2009, the upstate New York company has developed biocompatible, strong, lightweight, and fireproof fungi-based packaging as a sustainable replacement for polystyrene foam, widely used but made of environmentally harmful plastics. In August, AN reported Ecovative’s Mushroom Packaging project as a semi-finalist in the 2013 Buckminster Fuller Institute Challenge. This week, BFI awarded the entry first place in its $100,000 competition for socially responsive design. Combining agricultural waste and fungi tissue into a “mushroom material,” Bayer and McIntyre discovered that they could grow the solution into the shape of any mold, dry it, and create a strong solid with characteristics similar to Styrofoam. But, unlike Styrofoam whose production releases toxic substances, packaging made of mushrooms is net-positive and creates a closed loop production system. It is also cost-competitive. Bayer says that Evocative hopes its natural and ecologically friendly mushroom packaging will “completely displace petroleum-based packaging in the market.” He continues, “We’ve taken the best of agricultural mushroom technology, living systems technology, and paired it with serious, logical, engineer-type thinking about how we use these living systems. And then come up with a really innovative product.” After discovering the unique bonding ability of mushroom mycelium, fungi tissue with branch-like growing fibers, Ecovative has already begun expanding its use beyond packaging and into material for inexpensive housing, furniture, surfboards, and footwear. In a statement announcing Ecovative as their 2013 Challenge winner, BFI praised the initiative as a “ground-breaking enterprise” and “an extraordinary example” of “comprehensive, anticipatory, ecologically responsible, feasible, replicable, and verifiable” design for the improvement of a pressing human problem.
Placeholder Alt Text

TransformKC Celebrates Public Transit with International Exhibition

TransformKC is underway in Kansas City, and the dozens of projects on display are provoking discussion on topics from public transit to energy infrastructure. A joint effort between the Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance (KCRTA) and the American Institute of Architects Kansas City (AIA KC) Young Architects Forum (YAF), TransformKC curated built and unbuilt work around the topic of “regional mobility” in an attempt to “inspire the public’s imagination.” Explore all of the submissions here. Categories include architecture, infrastructure, planning, transit stations and urban design. The exhibition is on display in the East Hall of Kansas City, Missouri’s Union Station through October 25. Some work is local, like BNIM’s Better Block KC. Part of the 2011 Grand Boulevard Streetscape Plan, Better Block KC “envisions a safe, livable and walkable downtown” that uses complete street concepts. Disclosure: The Architect’s Newspaper is a media sponsor, and AN contributor Gunnar Hand served as the exhibition’s co-chair. Here are a few of the high-profile projects from outside Kansas City: BIG: Loop City Bjarke Ingels Group looks to a new light rail loop connecting 20 development zones around the 4-square-mile inner city of Copenhagen. They propose tying energy and water infrastructure into the rail line, creating “an artery of true urbanity pumping life into the heart of the suburbs.” KPF: Hudson Yards See AN's coverage of Kohn Pedersen Fox’s Hudson Yards towers here. SOM: Denver Union Station Skidmore, Owings and Merrill's plan calls for turning the historic Denver station into a multi-modal transportation network. John Gendall looked into the project for AN's feature on master planning.
Placeholder Alt Text

Public Votes University of North Carolina Solar Home as Decathlon Choice

This past weekend, a jury of architects, engineers, and market experts scored Team Austria’s home entry as the winner of the United States Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, a student design competition aimed at educating and encouraging thought about the affordability and efficiency of solar homes. As AN reported, the Team Austria private residential design is environmentally sensitive and easily adaptable, chosen for its overall energy efficiency, attractiveness of design, cost, and comfortable living conditions. However, of the 19 designs by collegiate teams from the United States, Canada, the Czech Republic, and Austria presented in Irvine, California, the public had a dissenting opinion about the Decathlon winner. The People’s Choice Award vote went to UrbanEden from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; this concrete and glass-based modern structure was the majority’s favorite home entry. UrbanEden is a four-room home designed for ease of indoor to outdoor flexibility. It is envisioned as existing within the urban city of Charlotte and has been designed with materials for noise reduction as well as energy efficiency. The structure is built of geopolymer cement concrete, which the team claims is “one of the first-known uses of a geopolymer mix in a building envelope.” Inside its walls are a series of tubes circulating cool water to remove heat inside the house without a compressor or refrigerant. The entire south wall is constructed of glass windows and leads to an exterior patio that can be covered, weather permitting, by a retractable photovoltaic panel roof. The patio has a vertical garden to provide greenery, privacy, and a potential food source. With these innovative technologies, the entry won third place in the Solar Decathlon Engineering Contest. However, in aesthetics, the home also makes an impression. Light-filled rooms and the easy accessibility to an outdoors terrace provide a balance of nature within an urban environment. With the beauty and comfort of its design, the DOE believes that UrbanEden earns its People’s Choice Award. Solar Decathlon comments: “UrbanEden is a house people can imagine themselves living in. A house that could easily become a home.” All Images Courtesy DOE Solar Decathlon.