Posts tagged with "sustainable architecture":

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AIA honors the top eleven sustainable buildings of 2018

As a fitting kickoff to Earth Day weekend, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) has announced the 2018 recipients of its COTE Top Ten Awards. Honoring ten projects that have surpassed rigorous thresholds in integration, energy use, water conservation, and wellness benchmarks, the award showcases cutting-edge buildings that are not only sustainable, but that contribute to the surrounding neighborhood. This year’s jury included:
  • Michelle Addington, Dean, School of Architecture, The University of Texas Austin Austin, Texas
  • Jennifer Devlin-Herbert, FAIA, EHDD. San Francisco
  • Kevin Schorn, AIA, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, New York
  • Julie V. Snow, FAIA, Snow Kreilich, Minneapolis
  • Susan Ubbelohde, LOISOS + UBBELOHDE, Alameda, California
The 2018 awardees ranged in usage from libraries to art galleries, as well as one single-family home. While the COTE Top Ten Awards are given to buildings that meet certain requirements, an additional “Top Ten Plus Award” is handed out to a single project with exceptional post-occupancy performance. The winners are as follows: Albion District Library; Toronto, Ontario, Canada Architect: Perkins+Will According to the jury: "This project clearly demonstrates the immediate positive impact of good design. A district library that serves a diverse and newly-immigrant community, the library has a dramatically increased visitorship (with a notable 75 percent increase for teenagers) over the old facility." Georgia Tech Engineered Biosystems Building; Atlanta, Georgia Architect: Lake|Flato in collaboration with Cooper Carry According to the jury: "The Georgia Tech Engineered Biosystems Building weaves a large array of active and passive strategies into a highly tuned machine for this university research laboratory." Mundo Verde at Cook Campus; Washington Architect: Studio Twenty Seven Architecture According to the jury: "A 25,000-gallon cistern holds rainwater for reuse, while the gardens have increased site vegetation from zero to 40 percent." Nancy and Stephen Grand Family House; San Francisco Architect: Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects According to the jury: "This cost-effective building serves a community of sick children and their families while prioritizing environmental performance." New United States Courthouse; Los Angeles; Los Angeles Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP According to the jury: "We were impressed with the quality of the calm, light-filled interior spaces for occupants who are often in the courthouse under difficult circumstances." The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum; Washington, D.C. Architect: DLR Group According to the jury: "The Renwick Gallery renovation wove complex and robust new systems while preserving the impressive historic design and collection and allowing opportunities for new works to be displayed." San Francisco Art Institute - Fort Mason Center Pier 2; San Francisco Architect: Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects According to the jury: "The design team recognized the assets of the existing structure and created a great, low-energy building with a healthy interior environment." Sawmill; Tehachapi, California Architect: Olson Kundig According to the jury: "The team is commended for their site-specific analysis, as evidenced by the decision to let rainwater recharge the water table rather than collect it. If a single-family dwelling is to be built in a desert climate, this is how to do it." Sonoma Academy’s Janet Durgin Guild & Commons; Santa Rosa, California Architect: WRNS Studio According to the jury: "This project demonstrates that, even with an energy-heavy program that includes a commercial kitchen, a fully integrated and dedicated design team can produce a beautiful and extremely well-performing building." Top Ten Plus winner: Ortlieb's Bottling House; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Architect: KieranTimberlake According to the jury: "An exceptional example of passive strategies used in adaptive reuse of an historic urban building."
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Geodesic dome pioneer Jay Baldwin passes away at 85

Pioneering environmental architect and industrial designer James Tennant Baldwin has passed away. The 85-year-old architect often went by the name of Jay and is well-known for his pioneering research in the realm of geodesic dome design and for work inspired by the research of Buckminster Fuller. An avid inventor and tinker, Baldwin leaves a legacy of non-stop experimentation and inquiry that includes pursuing innovative social ideals, developing advanced and sustainable construction systems, and interrogating new technologies. Baldwin is perhaps best known as the inventor of the so-called “pillow dome,” a modular metal tube structural system filled-in with ETFE panels. Early in his career, Baldwin pioneered solar geothermal and sustainable technologies and is among the earliest adopters of nascent sustainable approaches to design and building. Baldwin was born in 1933 and attended the University of Michigan in 1951, where he studied automobile design. As a young student, Baldwin once witnessed Fuller lecture for 14 hours straight; the episode inspired Baldwin to study under and eventually work for Fuller before graduating. After graduating in 1955, Baldwin worked for Bill Moss Associates, designing advanced camping gear. During the 1960s, Baldwin was a visiting lecturer at Southern Illinois University and the design editor of the Whole Earth Catalog. Baldwin was later employed in the California state government under the first Jerry Brown administration in 1975, serving in the California Office of Appropriate Technology. In the 1990s, Baldwin wrote a book about Buckminster Fuller’s work and legacy titled Bucky Works: Buckminster Fuller's Ideas for Today. Baldwin—a life-long educator—taught at the variety of educational institutions including California College of the Arts in San Francisco, University of San Francisco, the San Francisco Institute of Architecture, and Sonoma State University. In a statement, CCA president Stephen Beal said,
"I am privileged and proud to say that Jay was a part of our CCA community for over 20 years, inspiring generations of CCA students beginning in 1995 and continuing through his recent retirement in 2016. From his groundbreaking work in sustainable design, to his contagious spirit and undying passion for the field, Jay was a remarkable human being. It was truly an honor to have known him and to know that our students had the chance to learn from him."
   
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Is mass timber really sustainable?

This is an article from our special November timber issue. We like to blame a lot of things for climate change—namely coal and cow farts—but if we were to search for a worthy scapegoat, architects might end up looking in the mirror. The building sector is responsible for 44.6 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. And, with an estimated 1.9 trillion billion square feet to be built in the next 33 years, those emissions will not subside without significant intervention. On the flip side, for architects anyway, this means the power to reduce carbon emissions is quite literally in your hands. “No designer—I think—wakes up and says, ‘I want to make the world worse today,’” William McDonough, architect, designer, and sustainable development leader said. “To make the world better, that’s our job.” Identifying successful ways to build sustainably can be difficult in a haze of greenwashing and checklist-style certifications, but many environmental experts, architects, and scientists are looking to mass-built timber as a reliable way to reduce carbon and fossil fuel output. A recent study, “Carbon, Fossil Fuel, and Biodiversity Mitigation with Wood and Forests,” stated that using wood as a building-material substitute could save “14 to 31 percent of global CO2 emissions and 12 to 19 percent of global FF [fossil fuel] consumption by using 34 to 100 percent of the world’s sustainable wood growth.” Building with timber reduces the overall carbon footprint in several ways. First, wood is a renewable resource, and growing a tree is a low-impact method of production (i.e. it uses photosynthesis rather than a plethora of machines). Second, trees are grown in abundance all over the United States and don’t need to be imported from abroad, reducing the amount of energy expended on shipping. “Right now we harvest less than half of what we could and still be well within the threshold of sustainability,” Kathryn Fernholz, the executive director at Dovetail Partners, an environmental nonprofit, explained. “That’s not the same in every single scenario, but in general in the U.S., we have an abundance of wood.” Third, and perhaps counter-intuitively, many environmentalists believe that harvesting trees allows forests to become more efficient at carbon sequestration. The logic is simple: When a tree is harvested, it stores carbon, then when another tree is planted in its place, it also will store carbon, making that plot of land’s carbon sequestration infinitely multipliable as trees are planted, grown, and harvested. “There is a widely held belief that cutting down trees is bad and causes loss of forest, but a strong market for wood products would cause us to grow more forests,” Fernholz said. “The vast majority of deforestation is land conversion, using the land for something else like development or agriculture. We know what resources we have and we monitor them and adjust. Forestry is not in the same place it was a hundred or even fifty years ago when deforestation was an issue.” While that stance of de-and reforestation is under debate among environmental experts, across the board, timber is generally a more sustainable building material because it is a renewable resource (provided that responsible forest practices are used). This includes the energy consumed to produce cross-laminated timber (CLT) in factories, which have a carbon emissions advantage over steel because the wood does not need to be heated over 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit like steel or concrete—in fact, unless the wood is kiln dried, heat isn’t need at all. Although embodied carbon is typically measured per building, because different amounts of each material are used in different scenarios, Wood for Good, a campaign by the timber industry to promote the material, claims that a ton of bricks requires four times the amount of energy to produce as a ton of sawn softwood (wood used for CLT); concrete requires five times, steel 24 times, and aluminum 126 times. “Reporting carbon emissions for wood includes a range of different assumptions and methods,” explained Kathrina Simonen, an associate professor of architecture at the University of Washington and director of the Carbon Leadership Forum. “So sometimes it ends up negative and sometimes it ends up positive. It can be confusing.” She is optimistic, however, that research is close to resolving the differences. Responsible forestry practices are already underway, with harvest occurring on long rotations so that the forest has time to regenerate itself and care can be taken to avoid removing other plants, roots, and branches in the process. Lastly, “Wood can be a durable good, as we've seen in ancient wooden buildings like the Temple at Nara, Japan [originally built in 745 AD and rebuilt in 1709],” McDonough said. “In [wood’s] history, it is often put into a cycle of use and reuse that can take it from large numbers to smaller and smaller [components].” Its ability to withstand centuries and to be disassembled and then reassembled into other buildings and furnishings keeps it out of the landfill and in a perpetual cycle of use until it can ultimately be returned to the environment in some form. Although well over 90 percent of one-to-three-story residential buildings are already wood-built, there are only a handful of mid-rise and tall timber buildings across the United States, a result of building codes that often prohibit timber-built structures larger than four to six stories. However, thanks in part to innovative wood products, including CLT, nail laminated timber (NLT), and glue laminated timber (glulam), wood construction can be used in buildings as tall as 40 stories. A study by consulting and engineering company Poyry and the New England Forestry Foundation shows that the greatest potential for timber-built is in mid-rise (six to 14 story) buildings, as it also tends to be more economical to build with timber at that scale. According to the Soft-wood Lumber Board, over two-thirds of the square footage in the mid-rise sector could be made with mass timber. These statistics combined, in addition to the taller structures that mass timber can create, have the potential to make a sizable dent in our CO2 and fossil fuel emissions. Like virtually everything in architecture, though, it is all in the details; for timber to be sustainable it has to be done correctly, from responsible forestry practices to environmentally safe glues and binders to craftsmanship and the design itself. “It is tremendously exciting. Building with wood creates diverse opportunities—there are different species and materials that all can work,” Fernholz said. “However, it is important to recognize that some things can come from wood, but nothing replaces good design and planning.”
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SPARK’s “Home Farm” Typology Addresses Food Security and a Rapidly Aging Population in Singapore

SPARK’s recent conceptual project in Singapore is a bold interpretation of the city-state’s vision to be a “city in a garden.” Aptly called “Home Farm,” the project addresses Singapore’s rapidly aging population, proposing a combination of high-density senior housing and vertical urban farming. With over 90 percent of its food imported, Singapore faces serious challenges, especially given the substantial demographic shift currently underway. SPARK attempts to tackle these issues with the Home Farm typology, which aims to achieve not only food security, but also healthy and environmentally sustainable living conditions for seniors. The Home Farm design features stacked housing units within a curvilinear structure that wraps around a verdant central plaza featuring a produce market, library, and health center. The structure adapts a simple aquaponic system, and mimics a terraced farm landscape in both form and function, with leafy green vegetables growing on building facades and rooftops. The vegetable gardens provide not only a source of food production, but also a way for seniors to become economically self-sufficient. Currently, surveys have revealed that seniors in Singapore are experiencing financial inadequacy. Additionally, chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes and arthritis are common. At Home Farm, jobs for seniors could include planting, harvesting, sorting, and packing; remuneration of resident workers could include payment of salary, offsetting rental or utilities bills, offsetting healthcare costs at the on-site clinic, or free produce. Gardening activity would also offer numerous benefits beyond personal income generation, including community connectivity and the promotion of health. The sustainable, mixed-use development is in line with SPARK's vision of “stitching the spaces of the city into our buildings, and of unfolding our buildings into the city.” “We designed this concept for Singapore, but there is the potential for it to be applied in any location that would support the growth of leafy green vegetables on building facades and rooftops,” said SPARK Director Stephen Pimbley. “We are keen to see this project materialize at some point in the future. The concept is a realizable solution to real and pressing problems faced by many of the world’s growing cities.”
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Diana Balmori’s Meditation Room at IDEASCity 2015 explores the possibility of expansive horizons in crowded cities

Stemming from the idea that a city is but a stack of layered horizons, landscape architect Diana Balmori’s public installation for IDEASCity 2015 invites the viewer to contemplate where horizons occur in a pause-for-thought experience. Meditation Room: Horizon is a continuous constructed wall of paper where the overlapping of two dot matrix systems creates a visible horizon slightly above eye level. Presented by The Drawing Center, the installation expounds the revelations set forth in Balmori's book Drawing and Reinventing Landscape (2014), which explores horizon and peripheral vision to decode how designers perceive landscape and draw it accordingly. “The physical response to what you look at is vital; it activates the seeing,” Balmori wrote. The pleasure of drawing, she then muses, does not come from the act itself but “from enormous concentration essential to the act of drawing; from the intense looking that produces interior quiet and an imagined silence around you.” At the heart of Meditation Room is the concept that the landscape architect’s onus is to create a sense of expansive horizons within a city’s modest spaces. The piece will be installed at the Sara D. Roosevelt Park on the Lower East Side at Chrystie and Houston street on May 30 from 12–6pm. Balmori is the founder of New York–based Balmori Associates, an internationally recognized landscape architecture firm. An activist for sustainable architecture, Balmori is currently campaigning to widen and landscape the Broadway median between 72nd and 136th street to create a path with solar panels and wind turbines powered by the slipstream of passing cars.