As flood waters begin to recede in Texas and daylight illuminates the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey, many architects are wondering what the next steps will be as recovery plans begin to take shape. The short-term work will be to assess the damage and make the built environment safe for families to return; however, the long-term planning may take months or likely years of advocacy and design to fully implement. The Houston chapter of the AIA, the Texas Society of Architects, and FEMA will begin this week to train architects and engineers as part of the AIA’s Safety Assessment Program (SAP). This program helps to ensure the safety of the public as thousands of families return to their storm-battered houses and business in the coming weeks. Architects can help save millions of dollars for cities along the coast by volunteering to evaluate the habitability of these structures, freeing up funds for life safety and other emergency services. These volunteers will also help to compile data that will be used to develop new response strategies and better inform residents about how to manage the reconstruction of their houses. The last major hurricane to hit Houston was Ike back in 2008 in which the flooding conditions were not as severe, though many consider it an early warning of what was to come. According to Rusty Bienvenue, the executive director of AIA Houston, there are a variety of opinions about why the flooding was so extensive, but ultimately, “no city in America is prepared for 35 inches of rain all at once.” Bienvenue cautioned against blaming the extensive flooding wholly on Houston's zoning codes, or rather lack of code, arguing that approach is a narrow analysis of the complex environmental conditions. “We need to look at codes and strengthen them in some cases, but I get grumpy when some blame everything on supposedly bad design in Houston,” he said. Bienvenue indicated that poor regional planning and overbuilding around the reservoirs may have had detrimental effects on Houston's ability to drain its floodwaters during the worst of Hurricane Harvey. He also pointed towards a more pernicious problem, which is the likelihood that the severity of this storm was the result of global climate change. Resiliency planning and design has been a topic of great debate among Texas’ academic institutions, particularly at Rice University’s SSPEED Center in Houston, Texas and Texas A&M’s Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center in College Station, Texas. These and other issues will be at the forefront of the discourse as designers look for solutions to safeguard American coastal cities.
Posts tagged with "Texas Society of Architects":
This year’s Texas Society of Architects Design Conference focused on the topic of craft and was framed by a discussion of noted regional modernist O’Neil Ford. It was held in the north Texas town of Denton where Ford began his professional career and executed several important early projects. Unfortunately, a severe winter storm hit the region as attendees were making their way to the conference. With the chartered buses unable to make it to the hotel, tours were scrapped and lectures were relocated to the nondescript lobby of the hotel where attendees were staying. This allowed the talks to be attended both by sketchbook-wielding architects and by members of the Old Dominion University Basketball Team who were also staying at the hotel. Likely inspired by the subject matter, they defeated the University of North Texas 70 to 57. Dr. Kathryn O’Rourke gave the opening lecture that located Ford within the larger narrative arc of the modern movement. The Trinity University professor spoke of the role craft came to play in Ford’s work beginning with his Denton projects. Seattle-based Tom Kundig spoke the following morning about his body of work and of preserving a culture of craft within a 120-person firm. He described the difference between skiing on a prepared run as opposed to “Skiing the trees,” in a forest. He used this analogy to describe the profession, but it also was a fitting depiction for the conference. Later that afternoon David Salmela described his search for what a craft-based architecture of northwestern Minnesota should be. Based in Duluth, Salmela refrained from giving his Texan hosts too much grief for their inability to function with only a few inches of snow and ice. Although the lack of tours was disappointing, their cancellation allowed more time for the lectures and provided more opportunities for interaction between speakers and attendees. It also allowed Tenna Florian, who was scheduled to give a tour of Lake|Flato’s Josey Pavilion, to give a talk describing how craft can be used as a tool of sustainability. On Sunday morning the roads had cleared to a point where attendees were able to visit two churches designed by Ford. The Conference ended with a panel discussion at Ford’s 1939 Little Chapel in the Woods. After exploring the building, attendees listened to a panel discussion moderated by noted Dallas architect Max Levy. The session proved to be a fitting end to a most memorable Conference.
Where Nature and Technology Merge: Texas Society of Architects announces Field Constructs Design Competition
As architects and designers increasingly defer to nature in light of environmental issues, eco-friendly technology takes precedence. The Texas Society of Architects has announced the Field Constructs Design Competition which welcomes proposals from artists, designers, architects, and landscape architects for a temporary site-specific public installation within the Circle Acres Nature Preserve in Austin, Texas. In addition to exploring design innovations that integrate with the ecosystem and topography of the land, the competition invites designers to ruminate on ways their project could attract attention to areas perceived as peripheral or remote through interaction with the local community. Integrating with unwieldy terrain such as wetlands, forestland and grassland is a further challenge. The site for the competition itself exemplifies this two-pronged concept—the preserve is a brownfield remediation located on a former 10-acre retired landfill that was transformed into a park for the Montopolis neighborhood. Proposals should evidence mindfulness of zero-impact solutions, interactive media and novel material assemblies. The jury will initially select 10–12 proposals, after which six to eight finalist projects will be shortlisted and receive the green light for building along with a $5,000 reimbursable grant to cover fabrication and installation expenses (travel and accommodation expenses handled separately). Winning installations will open to the public in mid-November 2015 as part of a month-long series of curated events. How to submit Entrants must submit a PDF document of no more than 20 pages, opening with a statement of intent detailing the installation’s main features, proposed strategy for installation and disassembly, site conditions including topography, vegetation, and access – as well as the hoped-for ecological and social impact. Design documentation is an obvious essential – the jury will be looking for scaled drawings, renderings, diagrams, models or sketches that delineate key physical features and the project’s connection to the site. An itemized budget inclusive of travel and accommodation expenses is also called for. Finally, project authors are required to submit a biography for each team member and three professional references. Although the vision is to create temporary installations, proposals that push the envelope may be considered for longer-term or even permanent exhibition. The FCDC has partnered with Ecology Action, a non-profit organization in charge of the competition site, the Circle Acres Nature Preserve to explore sustainability, design and creative use of a former landfill. For more information, visit: www.fieldconstructs.org.
A structural, textured metal system wins first place in a competition and the chance to develop a façade with Zahner.Reinforcing the idea that time fosters wisdom, Nicholas Bruscia and Christopher Romano’s third iteration of a structural architectural screen was awarded first place in Tex-Fab’s digital fabrication competition, SKIN. According to Tex-Fab’s co-director, Andrew Vrana, the team’s 3xLP project was selected for its innovative façade system, which uses parametric design and digital fabrication. The 3xLP designers’ exploration of the relationship between academia and manufacturing merged at the University at Buffalo’s (UB) Department of Architecture. Starting their collaborative research with a digital model, Bruscia and Romano solicited the help of local manufacturer Rigidized Metals, (RM), who helped realize the second stage of the project’s evolution with two thin gauge metals featuring proprietary patterns. “The project is important because we’ve partnered so closely with Rigidized Metals,” Roman told AN. “We’ve brought digital and computational expertise, and they’ve provided material knowledge for textured metal—it’s a reciprocal team.” Bruscia said the computational models were heavily informed by material parameters. Working with various patterns in RM’s product library, the team started to see various textures performing differently in structural applications, though the company’s metals are typically used in cladding or decorative applications. “Rigidized Metals’ patterns are stronger than flat metals,” Romano said. “That informed how we selected textures and which became a part of the computational conversation.” Drawn to the geometry of the embossed 4LB sheet, they found the low relief pattern to perform comparably to a deeply stamped-style, and that it complemented other chosen patterns nicely. Structural loading was tested in Karamba, an architect-friendly finite element method analysis plugin for Rhino that was developed recently in Austria. Designed primarily in Rhino 5 and Grasshopper, the team also wrote many of their own scripts. For the SKIN competition, the team adjusted porosity of the screen to increase transparency for façade applications. The screen’s pattern is articulated from all perspectives, creating a dynamic quality that is achieved by a slight twist through the entire structure. “The twist in the system is a result of us getting the geometry on the screen for the system to perform structurally, and to make it possible to fabricate,” Romano said. “Some geometric moves on the screen can be difficult to fabricate, so to remove those you get subtle twisting in the elevation.” At RM’s Buffalo facility, profiles of the system’s components were turret-punched on a CNC, and folded on a press break to achieve a diamond shape. A tabbing system was also milled so the shapes could be fastened with stainless bolts to form a seamless, continuous cell structure. As part of the SKIN competition, Bruscia and Romano will continue working with RM, as well as A. Zahner Company, to fabricate a façade system with a glazing component. The 3xLP team will exhibit their results at the Tex-Fab 5 event in Austin, Texas on February 19.