We've known since early last year that the Solar Decathlon, the biennial event showcasing the best in energy producing, student-designed houses, was no longer welcome on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. due to concerns over wear and tear on the "nation's front yard." The 2011 Decathlon, won by the University of Maryland, was pushed to a far corner of the Mall between the Tidal Basin and the Potomac River midway through the design process, causing outcry from student teams who were finalizing their house designs. Officials later announced that future Decathlons might leave D.C. entirely, and today, Department of Energy Secretary Stephen Chu confirmed that it will be moving about as far away from the Mall as possible—to the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California between Los Angeles and San Diego. Orange County Great Park, comprised of 1,360 acres of recreational area designed by landscape architect Ken Smith and built on a former air field, has been taking shape over the past several years, with a new 7.5-acre Palm Court and 18.5-acre North Lawn already complete. We still found it curious, however, that the Department of Energy noted the site's "ample visitor parking" and direct freeway access considering arriving by car might be the least sustainable way to access the exhibition. The Department of Energy said the decision to move the Solar Decathlon site was based in part on extending the audience of the fall exhibition of houses. The Great Park also incorporates environmental concerns into its design, including undulating bioswales filled with native plants that help to store and filter water runoff. The $65.5 million first phase is expected to be complete this year after a series of athletic fields are finished. AN's West Coast Editor Sam Lubell visited the park last October to check in on its progress and noted the strengths and weaknesses of reclaiming a disused airfield. Future phases of the park could take another 15 to 20 years to complete. While the new location might lack the prestige of the grand allée leading from the U.S. Capitol building, the California site will make the sustainability showcase more accessible to a new audience on the west coast, and it seems safe to bet that the student teams (listed below) should have no problem juicing up their solar cells in sunny SoCal. The following teams have been selected from around the world to compete in Solar Decathlon 2013: · Arizona State University and the University of New Mexico (Tempe, Ariz., and Albuquerque, N.M.) · Czech Technical University (Prague, Czech Republic) · Hampton University and Old Dominion University (Hampton and Norfolk, Va.) · Middlebury College (Middlebury, Vt.) · Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla, Mo.) · Norwich University (Northfield, Vt.) · Queens University, Carleton University, and Algonquin College (Kingston and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) · Santa Clara University (Santa Clara, Calif.) · Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of Technology (Los Angeles, Calif.) · Stanford University (Palo Alto, Calif.) · Stevens Institute of Technology (Hoboken, N.J.) · The Catholic University of America, George Washington University, and American University (Washington, DC) · The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.) · The University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College (El Paso, Texas) · University of Calgary (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) · University of Louisville, Ball State University, and University of Kentucky (Louisville, Ky.; Muncie, Ind.; and Lexington, Ky.) · University of Nevada Las Vegas (Las Vegas, Nev.) · University of Southern California (Los Angeles, Calif.) · Vienna University of Technology (Vienna, Austria) · West Virginia University (Morgantown, W. Va.)
Posts tagged with "Sustainability":
City Planning hasn’t missed a beat since celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Zoning Amendment with a conference in November that brought together zoning czars from academia, business, and government to discuss challenges ahead for planning in New York City. On Monday, Amanda Burden of the City Planning Commission (CPC) announced a new Zone Green initiative making it easier —at least zoning-wise—for sustainable upgrades of residential and commercial buildings across the city. Zone Green focuses on retrofitting existing buildings to high performance standards. To that end and as part of the mayor’s efforts to green NYC’s one million buildings (and lower the $15 billion per year it takes to power and heat them), the new zoning text allows for the addition of external insulation within property lines while exempting insulation from floor area requirements; permits solar panels on roofs to exceed maximum building height limits; allows window shades and screens, whether vertical or horizontal, to project from building facades. The new code is more flexible about rooftop bulkhead regulations in order to encourage and allow cogeneration facilities, skylights, storm water management tanks, as well as—with CPC certification—greenhouses as long as they are not residential in any way. Small wind turbines would be allowable on buildings taller than 100 feet and those under 100 feet that are near the waterfront (except in low-density residential neighborhoods). The new proposal continues the department’s innovative approach that has wielded zoning to applications well beyond building mass and height in order, among other things, to encourage fresh food sources in neighborhoods with heavy concentrations of obesity; mandate access to stairs as an alternative to elevators and escalators also for healthier urban living; and even acknowledge that some New Yorkers just want to be alone by including single seats in parks and on the waterfront. Green Zone will be backed by new amendments to the City’s energy code; it has been submitted to public review by all community boards, borough boards and presidents for 60 days as of Dec 12 through approximately med-February when all comments will be reviewed by CPC and the City Council.
Building of the Day #20: 41 Cooper Square The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art New York, NY Often “stats” and awards are known well before the public appreciates a new building’s urban role. Cooper Union’s 41 Cooper Square, designed by Thom Mayne, FAIA, of Morphosis Architects with Gruzen Samton as Associate Architect, is more than a volume for a multi-disciplinary academic building with a co-generation plant, cooling and heating ceiling panels, low V.O.C. materials, green terraces, and “Fit-City”-worthy vertical circulation. While these stats did help the client claim the first LEED Platinum-certified academic laboratory building, Cooper has also revived a former traffic triangle and extended its identity southwards along the new Bowery. At a time when both NYU and Columbia’s building goals face sharp scrutiny, it pays to have a tough skin. Make that a gritty double skin! The west façade’s projected outer skin is so dynamic in section that I only recently understood (via Mayne on YouTube) that it is also gently convex in plan. An eye-catching event along the city’s grid at the start of Third Avenue also reintroduces us to Peter Cooper Park. After 150 years, the short (south) façade of Frederick A. Peterson’s Foundation Building has a worthy urban partner with which to share this public space and the 1897 Peter Cooper Monument (Augustus Saint-Gaudens with a Stanford White base). The Foundation Building employed innovations such as wrought iron framing, ventilation at the below-grade Great Hall and a round elevator shaft. Mayne’s primary elevators skip stops to encourage use of the central open and luminous stair. This void is the heart of 41 Cooper Square, with its walls inflected by labs and studios. The façade gash opens this “heart” to the city and, in return, the city to it. -Arthur Platt, AIA, is Co-chair of AIA New York’s Architectural Tourism Committee and a partner at Fink & Platt Architects. For the info on the tour of tomorrow's Building of the Day click here: Toni Stabile Student Center, Columbia University. Each “Building of the Day” has received a Design Award from the AIA New York Chapter. For the rest of the month—Archtober—we will write here a personal account about the architectural ideas, the urban contexts, programs, clients, technical innovations, and architects that make these buildings noteworthy. Daily posts will track highlights of New York’s new architecture. Read more at www.archtober.org/blog.
Mayor Emanuel has made transit, biking, and sustainability some of the top priorities of his young administration. The same goes for fiscal restraint and transparency (something notably lacking in the administration of his predecessor). Drawing on his experience as White House Chief of Staff, his most recent edict combines these two sets of goals. Emanuel is mandating that city employees use public transit when on the job. According to NBC Chicago, employees who use other means of transportation to conduct city business will have to justify their expenses when submitting for reimbursements. The new rules are in response to the report compiled by city comptroller Amer Ahmad. "Across the board we found inconsistency in the policies and enforcement in our departments and sister agencies,” Ahmad said. "This new policy provides the necessary structure to ensure that city travel is efficient and above all an appropriate use of city resources."
On October 1st, the U.S. Department of Energy unveiled the winner of the 2011 Solar Decathlon at West Potomac Park in Washington D.C., bringing together innovative solar-powered prototype residences designed and built by international student teams from universities and colleges. This year's champion, the University of Maryland's WaterShed house, excelled in a variety of then ten metrics used to judge the houses including affordability, energy balance, hot water, and engineering. The WaterShed house included living features such as a waterfall providing humidity control, an edible green wall for year-round produce, and artificial-filtration wetlands. The University of Maryland also won the architecture contest outright. Appalachian State won the 2011 Solar Decathlon People's Choice Awards for their net-zero energy Solar Homestead. U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu lauded this year’s designs as imaginative, practical, and inspiring. "The houses on display blend affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. These talented students are demonstrating to consumers the wide range of energy-saving solutions that are available today to save them money on their energy bills," he said. Purdue University's InHome, taking second prize, incorporated an air-to-air heat pump; Empowerhouse by Parsons The New School for Design and Stevens Institute of Technology relied on a green roof and an energy recovery ventilation system while Middlebury College’s Self-Reliance house rethought the New England farmhouse through technology such as stack effect ventilation and triple-paned windows. New Zealand’s Victoria University of Wellington’s First Light home recycled sheep wool for insulation and included a clothes-drying cupboard and used solar-powered hot water.
The designers behind the Lakeview Area Masterplan, Moss Design, are pushing ahead with a plan for a new park on a vacant lot on North Paulina Street adjacent to the Brown Line tracks. According to their research there are five vacant lots within a one block area, so there is ample land available for development. This argument has yet to sway Alderman Scott Waguespack, who has opposed a plan for the Special Services Area to acquire the land with the help of the non-profit Openlands. According to Matt Nardella, principal at Moss, the Alderman favors a mixed-use development on the site. Moss and the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce, which funded the masterplan, are currently exploring other options to acquire the land privately. Plans for the park include shade trees, picnic mounds and other seating, a food truck corral, bioswales and other elements. The masterplan is unusual for its emphasis on sustainability, not the typical concern of chambers of commerce. Still, the designers and the chamber believe that attractive open space will make the area more desirable to business and residents.
It might be the latest trend in creative modern eco-office design or, more likely, it's a tongue-in-cheek reminder to avoid letting work take over your life. In the typical modern office with row upon row of geometric cubicles, the closest a worker might get to nature is a small potted plant, a faraway glimpse out a window, or a rainforest background on his or her computer. But a new installation in downtown Denver quite literally breaks down this man-made environment in an effort to promote outdoor activity and a connection to nature during the workday. Boulder-based architecture firm Tres Birds Workshop created the five-part installation called Natural Systems Domination in July from old office furniture covered in live plants, evoking an office—perhaps abandoned by workers who left to find nature—where nature has found a way back into the work environment. From the architects:
Domination implies taking over. If we had it our way, natural systems would dominate entirely. Natural systems operate in perfect efficiency. Humans are both part of those natural systems and also somehow separate (by choice). The further we stray from connections with nature, the more alien we become.The installation is part of sustainability-minded Keen Footwear's "Recess Revolution Tour" and represents a collaboration with Green Roofs of Colorado and the Fabric Lab. All of the office equipment from chairs and tables to an old copy machine was purchased from second-hand stores and was donated back after the installation was complete. Plants were also reused in the community. (Via TreeHugger.) Click on a thumbnail to launch the slideshow.
Has the green movement gone too far? STAR Strategies + Architecture examines the prevalence of "green-washing and the abuse of sustainability" in their project O' Mighty Green, where they posit that the notion of "green" has taken on a life of its own outside of sustainability and has become on many levels a new sort of religion. As the architects said in their introduction:
Sustainability currently shares many qualities with God; supreme concept, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient; creator and judge, protector, and (…) saviour of the universe and the humanity. And, like God, it has millions of believers. Since we humans are relatively simpleminded and suspicious and need evidence before belief can become conviction, Green has come to represent sustainability; has become its incarnation in the human world. But sustainability, like God, might not have a form, nor a colour.To demonstrate this absurdity, STAR has implemented what they call "sustainability as a photoshop filter" and clad a variety of iconic—and notorious—buildings with green walls, even invoking the spirit of St. Green, the patron saint of sustainable architects. The architects have taken a similarly snarky view of contradictions in preservation. (Via Dezeen.) What are your thoughts? Are architects guilty of praying at the green altar?
Philip Johnson's Glass House in New Canaan, CT clocks in at under 2,000 square feet--tiny compared to the McMansions being built just a stone's throw away. The transparent house is widely known as one of the earliest and most influential modernist homes in the United States, but its size is also a lesson in sustainable living. Hilary Lewis, the Philip Johnson Scholar at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, recently hosted a conversation discussing how architects and designers can reshape public perception and build homes that are luxurious but small, like the Glass House. Lewis, who worked with Johnson for over twelve years and recorded his memoirs, noted that the house utilized interesting materials in unexpected places, from the brick floor and fireplace to the leather ceiling in the bathroom. The house also took full advantage of the surrounding 50 acres, said Lewis, who explained: "Johnson and David Whitney worked assiduously, removing trees and planting. It was a constant effort to carve a more interesting landscape. Johnson used to refer to this building as a permanent camping trip -- one with very expensive wallpaper." The talk was the first of a new weekly series called "Conversations in Context," in which special guests lead visitors on an intimate tour of the property. The program was inspired by the Glass House's legacy as a salon where Johnson and his partner David Whitney hosted conversations with the movers and shakers in art, architecture, and design. This week Lewis is also hosting an online conversation about how architects and designers can downsize the idea of luxurious living; go to the Glass House Conversations website to contribute your two cents!
Toy Cities. Our friends at Planetizen tell us that Avondale, AZ had urban planner James Rojas over for a playdate of sorts. Citizens who took part in this re-visioning session got to use pipecleaners, Legos, blocks, and other assorted toys to build their ideal version of the city. According to Rojas, this bottom-up community planning method breaks down barriers and allows people to exercise a degree of creativity not often found at the typical charrette. Food Oases. Streetsblog questions the much hyped notion of the "food desert": is it media myth or reality? It seems that urban areas aren't always as lacking in food stores as they seem, at least depending on your definition of supermarket. Even the USDA, who recently debuted their new food desert locator, might be a bit confused about what constitutes a food desert. (In fact, the web application says that a part of Dedham, MA is a food desert. Maybe they don't count the Star Market that's right near that Census tract...) Suburban Swan Song. Slate's architecture columnist Witold Rybczynski has penned an obit of sorts to that symbol of suburban sprawl, the McMansion. He posits that when the recession is over people will be in the mood to buy homes again, but that they may be hesitant to purchase a behemoth of a building that costs a lot to heat and cool. Green Alert. Inhabitat takes a look at the latest in the green roof trend in the form of sloping roofs on townhomes in the City of Brotherly Love. It seems that the historic Center City has a new (and almost LEED certified) infill development called Bancroft Green. The high-end homes here sport some nifty plant covered roofs as well as geothermal heating and herb gardens that capture storm runoff and spaces designed specifically for bicycle storage.
Hem Sweet Hem. We love this quirky story from our friends at Curbed. The Swedish-based IKEA is well on itsway to worldwide domination of the budget-furniture market -- and who doesn't love wandering through the cavernous stores and imagining life in the mini habitats arranged throughout the store? Photographer Christian Gideon sure did. His latest project documents what life might look like if you lived in one. Subsidy Switch. LA's Mayor Villaraigosa promised not to spend any taxpayer money to a proposed football stadium in the city, but the project's lead architect is another matter entirely. According to LA Weekly, the mayor is sending $1 million slated for the city's poor to lead-architect Gensler as they prepare to move their offices from Santa Monica to downtown LA. Elvis Goes Danish. Think living at IKEA was strange enough? Well, the Historic Sites Blog hopes to top that. Apparently there is now a replica of Graceland in Denmark. Yes, Denmark. If those photos weren't enough, the BBC has a brief video of the Danish dupe. Empire Example. According to gbNYC, the Empire State Building plans to be in the LEED when it comes to retrefotting historic buildings. Though owner Anthony Malkin, the man behind the green curtain, didn't set out to achieve the green label for one of the city's highest profile building, he's apparently changed his tune.
Nature's Benz. LA Autoshow reveals a radically green Mercedes-Benz concept called Biome-- it's made of organic fibers, powered by the sun, and releases pure oxygen into the air! The system behind this model is called "Mercedes-Benz Symbiosis," in which vehicles are seamless part of the ecosystem. Facebook's Exodus. According to the New York Times, Facebook is moving out -- of the office clusters in Palo Alto -- and into an insulated 57-acre corporate campus in Menlo Park, California, which is to be renovated by San Francisco-based Gensler. About 2,000 workers, including Mark Zuckerberg, will be moved in within next 10 months. These young 20-somethings don't want a sleek corporate office, but something idiosyncratic and soulful, which the new campus aims for. Code Green. Crain's reports that the New York City Council continues to green up the city's building codes. A trio of bills looks to "create more energy-efficient roofs." While the first bill requires more reflective and less heat-absorbent roof materials, the second removes building-height limitations from solar thermal equipment and electric collectors and the third bill will add heat and power systems to the list of allowable rooftop structures. Well-spoken Vowell. Chicago magazine talks to Sarah Vowell about Chicago -- and a little New York -- architecture. "It’s what I do for fun: Go see buildings. I like architecture because it’s so nonverbal," she said, and then goes on to discuss her personal relationship with the Carson Pirie-Scott Building. Vowell recently finished her new book on Hawaii called Unfamiliar Fishes.