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Product>Beauty and Brains: Lighting that checks all the boxes

These lighting fixtures are the best of both worlds—not only do they enhance the look of any environment, they also can be controlled with little to no effort. Circle of Light Flos A ceiling recessed aluminum ring of LED spotlights creates a luminous glow in open spaces. The Circle of light is offered in three diameters—300 millimeters, 600 millimeters, and 900 millimeters, which all offer a temperature of 2,700/3,000 kilowatts, 185/268 total lumen, and a CRI of 90/80. Adorne Beyond Beige Legrand One of the latest interior design trends has been a return to soft, neutral palettes. Legrand has expanded the color options for their wall plates to include six new earth tones that are available in 1- to 6-gang sizes, which support up to 12 functions. Wink Modular Lighting Instruments Designed by Couvreur.Devos, the name is a cheeky nod to the often-comical ways in which a wink can be interpreted. The semirecessed fixture offers a symmetrical or asymmetrical lighting effect, with a wall-wash option. It is available in white or a black-grained finish. Decora Digital Controls Leviton Equipped with Bluetooth technology, the digital controls can be paired with an app to dim lights as well as program-timed events that can automatically adjust for sunrise and sunset times as well as daylight saving time. There is no need for a hub, gateway, or internet connection as all functions can be controlled with the use of a smartphone, tablet, or optional remote. Parco Bollard Hess America With its sleek curved design, Parco provides uniform illumination for pathways up to 10 feet wide. The bollard satisfies IES-recommended light levels and uniformity requirements for use in urban and commercial settings as well as LEED lighting zones. Ivalo Aliante Sconce Lutron Inspired by nautical elements, the minimalist fixture is available in 4- and 5-foot options that can be used in both interior and exterior spaces. It is now available in a 3,000 kilowatt color temperature, which allows for a whiter light, in addition to the 2,700 kilowatt and 3,500 kilowatt options.
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Moon Camp complex and Space Hotel debated by congress

The purpose of the National Aeronautical Space Administration (NASA) was debated by congress last month. Congress agreed on the role NASA could potentially play in the future, contemplating the possibility of a hotel on the International Space Station (ISS) and and camp base on the moon. Despite the somewhat whimsical ideas being thrown about, the notion of re-aligning NASA's objectives was paramount. The race for the next frontier in space may have already started with Russian firm Orbital Technologies. That company has put forward the idea for a Commercial Space Station (CSS), though space get-away's wouldn't be cheap. Travel costs are estimated to begin at $800,000 with another $160,000 piled on for your stay. The space hotel concept relies solely on prefabricated components, a method successfully employed for the ISS. Architects and engineers, however, would be free from the earthly worries of damp-proofing, load bearing walls, vapor checks though envelope performance, and making sure the structure is sturdy. When a new addition is sent up to the ISS, it is primarily function-orientated with little attention given to its aesthetic qualities. For a commercial space station, this would likely change. The debate for moon camps in congress however, only arose as an idea to give astronauts six-month training prior to lengthier expeditions to Mars. Whether NASA plans to construct such a spectacle remains to be seen, though it appears the decision is out of their hands.
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Gensler’s Duncan Lyons shows how today’s facades reflect changing trends in the workplace

As an architectural typology, the contemporary office building sits at the intersection of a number of social, economic, and environmental trends: the changing nature of the workplace; the expanding reach of communications and other technologies; and an increasing focus on sustainability and resilience. Three AEC industry professionals at the forefront of office building design and construction will be on hand at this week's Facades+AM DC symposium to discuss the new materials and technologies (including coatings, fritting, curved, and formed glass) that can be brought to bear on the challenges and opportunities associated with private- and public-sector office projects. Bob Schofield, Senior Vice President of Development and Director of Design and Construction at Akridge; Front Inc. Founding Partner Marc Simmons; and Gensler's Firmwide Commercial Office Building Developers Practice Area Leader, Duncan Lyons together bring years of experience in high performance design and construction to the conversation. Asked about the factors influencing the design of an office building's facade, Gensler's Lyons cited, "How the office building contributes to place-making, energy performance, and user experience; creating a healthy and inspiring workplace; [and] connecting building users to daylight, outside air, and a unique sense of place." That the worker experience is a key consideration in office building design reflects a broader transformation in American work culture, one in which a focus on fostering employee potential has replaced the traditional emphasis on products and processes. Just as employer–employee relationships have changed, so, too, has the technology available to tackle other pressing issues, including environmental performance. Lyons sees a future for dynamic building facades that utilizes new glass technologies, operable facades, and user adaptation—developments that promise to boost both worker satisfaction and sustainability. Hear more from Lyons, Schofield, and Simmons, as well as other movers and shakers in the facades world at Facades+AM DC. Register today and earn CEU credits at the event March 10.
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Los Angeles’s tallest building to receive a vertigo-inducing slide in the sky

In Downtown Los Angeles, a glass slide is being attached to California's tallest building, almost 1,000 feet above the ground. Dubbed Skyslide, the slide will descend from the 70th to the 69th floor of the 1,017-foot-tall US Bank Tower. The building was designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners and completed in 1989. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, it was the first supertall on the West Coast. Constructed from 1.25-inch-thick glass panels, the Skyslide will be approximately 46 feet long and 4 feet wide and adhere to the building's exterior via a metal support system. Singapore-based developer OUE Limited is initiating the project as part of Skyspace L.A., an approximately 850-square-foot observation and exhibition space on top of the tower. The project is part of a $50 million building-wide renovation plan and upgrade led by Gensler. Skyspace L.A. is primarily geared towards tourists, though no doubt locals will appreciate panoramic views of the city, San Gabriel Mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. It will cost $25 to visit Skyspace and a ride on the Skyslide will cost an additional $8 when the site opens on June 25th. Although this slide may be the most vertigo-inducing, it's not the first large-scale slide to be installed on a tall structure. The 376-foot-tall ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower in London's Olympic Park, designed by Anish Kapoor, features the world's longest and fastest tunnel slide. Riders descend for 40 seconds at 15 miles per hour, getting fantastic views of East London along the way.
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Struggling to express yourself? Try an Archemoji

Until now, architects have had few ways of expressing themselves when faced with a palette of emojis. The dull depictions of a hospital, hotel, or town hall simply do not suffice the range of architectural expression in the modern world. Cue Alexandra Lange and Curbed, who recently launched Archemoji. The name says it all. Emojis, whether you like it or not, are part of modern day life. Last year, the Oxford English Dictionary officially added "😂", or "Face with Tears of Joy", and so it's probably only fair that the architecture scene got in on the act. After all, Kim Kardashian has already added her own set, Kimoji. Thankfully, #Archemoji has taken twitter by storm, trending for all the right reasons, and now there's even a quiz that lets you know what specific Archemoji you are. https://twitter.com/kelseykeith/status/702869324118286336 With Archemoji, you can now swear at someone with Frank Gehry without having to source a meme from the web. You can let someone know you disapprove with the disapproving-Zaha emoji, or passively send them a Doric column to let them know how basic they are. Denise Scott-Brown's power-stance, Lange's favorite, is also featured. Quite how emotionally liberating Archemoji's will be remains to be seen, though Lange points out that the common dilemma of articulating yourself through emoji's to say "fell into a Brutalism rabbit hole online" has now finally been solved. "Won’t it be nice to just say Heart + Villa Savoie? Or Side Eye + Shipping Container? Sadly, I know I’m going to get a lot of use out of Heartbreak + Wrecking Ball + Boston City Hall, as yet another heroic concrete building goes down," says Lange.
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Harvesting the Sun: Japan building world’s largest floating solar farm

March 11 marks the five-year anniversary at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. After the disaster, officials have been on the hunt for alternative energy solutions. Now, Japanese electronics firm Kyocera has begun construction on what will be the world's largest floating solar farm, just outside Tokyo. The Yamakura dam power plant will use more than 50,000 solar photovoltaic panels covering nearly 2 million square feet. Japan is a country short on space, so energy solutions that aren't built on land are a welcome sight to many. As the Guardian recently reported, the country is increasingly dependant on imported fossil fuels, to the detriment of its carbon footprint goals. The solar array is being constructed upon a reservoir with hopes of providing enough energy for roughly 5,000 homes when finished in 2018. Despite its size, the plant is comparatively small to land-based solar farms. Expected to produce 13.7MW when complete, this more than 28 times smaller than the 392 Ivanpah Solar Power Facility in San Bernardino, CA. According to Kyocera TLC Solar, "the project will generate an estimated 16,170 megawatt hours (MWh) per year — enough electricity to power approximately 4,970 typical households — while offsetting about 8,170 tons of CO2 emissions annually. This is equal to 19,000 barrels of oil consumed." "With the decrease in tracts of land suitable for utility-scale solar power plants in Japan due to the rapid implementation of solar power, Kyocera TCL Solar has been developing floating solar power plants since 2014, which utilize Japan’s abundant water surfaces of reservoirs for agricultural and flood-control purposes," the firm added.
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A “New Blue House” in Germany brings together energy industry, science and public sector

"To make sure that all sustainability criteria are considered, we coordinate an integrated general planning team with clear communication structures and a customized working process from the first conception until the phase of use." - kadawittfeldarchitektur

Kadawittfeldarchitektur has built a modern energy efficiency center on the campus of Hochschule Niederrhein in Mönchengladbach, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The zero emission building is constructed to Passive House standards which require thermal bridge free design, superior windows, ventilation with heat recovery, quality insulation and airtight construction.  The driving idea behind the project was to unite the science and energy industry with the university in a collaborative effort to share innovative energy technologies with the public. The building accommodates an energy center for NEW, an energy and water utility company, along with an academic library, a startup center for new business ventures, and an energy laboratory for students. The building is designed to be an object in the landscape – a “solitaire” according to Mathias Garanin, Project Manager for kadawittfeldarchitektur.  “Due to its conception as a solitaire, it is a building without a rear elevation, a building that faces public space in all directions.” Garanin and the kadawittfeldarchitektur project team say the building volume was based on setback distances from neighboring buildings, creating a compact, five-sided volume clad with oppositely inclined blue tinted glass and photovoltaic panels coordinated with the orientation and incidence of solar radiation. “The NEW-Blauhaus building is kept at a distance in order to establish new relationships.” Benefits to the volumetric shape of the building include a favorable volume-to-surface ratio for energy efficiency and a relatively short interior travel distances to maximize collaboration.
  • Facade Manufacturer ertex solartechnik GmbH (photovoltaics), SUMMER facade systems (glazing)
  • Architects kadawittfeldarchitektur
  • Facade Installer SUMMER facade systems, A.Frauenrath BauConcept (general contractor)
  • Facade Consultants Rache Engineering GmbH (engineering)
  • Location Mönchengladbach, Germany
  • Date of Completion 2015
  • System curtain wall system on five-story reinforced concrete structure
  • Products black aluminum profiles; floor-to-ceiling sashes with exterior soundproofing, fall-protection panes; dark-blue enameled panes; photovoltaic elements integrated in opaque panes; exterior solar shading device
While the architects have produced a formally engaging homogeneous skin, loaded with performative features acknowledging insulation requirements, acoustics, durability, and user comfort, perhaps the most important role of the building is to clearly communicate a high performance energy agenda. This is achieved in two ways: in the facade, which is clad with photovoltaic panels, and at the base of the building, where an energy center doubles as a showroom visible to onlookers from the exterior. Here, visitors can engage in displays showcasing sustainable energy, along with a specialized highly efficient reversible heat pump system involving an ice storage tank and chiller plant. kadawittfeldarchitektur says the facade is the building’s most exclusive means of expression. “As a significant part of the advanced energy concept, it communicates the approach to conserving resources to the outside and determines the identity of the architecture and its users in the urban environment.” A 4-foot structural grid establishes stacks of window and photovoltaic units that are variably rotated to most effective solar angles. Soundproofing panes located in front of the widow units work to compositionally complete the building envelopes patterned ornamentation. The window units are operable, providing individualized user comfort as required. The north facade receives enameled glass in place of the photovoltaic panels along the north facade were omitted from the design due to performative issues, and replaced with an enameled glass. The elegance of the envelope system inspired an interior design scheme of clarity and communication through “color blocking.” Based on the activity of the building as an energy generation system from dusk to dawn, the coloration of interior spaces combines hues of a defined color spectrum found in sunset and sunrise conditions.
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Peter Cook’s first building in the U.K. celebrates hand drawing with a bright blue studio space

Archigrammer Peter Cook has returned to his childhood home, Bournemouth, on the South coast of England, to construct his first building in the United Kingdom. The building is a bright blue drawing studio—an addition to an existing complex at the Arts University of Bournemouth, Cook’s alma mater. Built at a time when digital drawing is in the ascendency, this building returns back to support the craft and art of hand drawing. It features both “a large north-light in the studio tradition, a rear clerestory that throws a softer light back from the rear wall, as well as softer lighting from the east and a graded wash of light that comes along the curve of the entrance.” The drawing studio was opened today in a ceremony that featured one of Cook’s best known students Dame Zaha Hadid who proclaimed “I simply love this building.”
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China goes the extra mile converting trash to energy

Shenzhen is undertaking a massive public works project that will transform trash from one of China's largest cities into energy—and it's going to be huge. The facility is planned to be a mile in circumference, making it the largest waste-to-energy power plant in the world. Unlike its Danish counterpart by Bjarke Ingels, China's circular waste facility won't be puffing out delicate smoke rings representing CO2. Designed by another Danish firm, SHL Architects, the project is estimated to burn 5,500 tons of litter every day—more than Shenzhen produces daily. While this may seem like a not-so-green solution, the alternatives, according to Fast Companymake it look comparatively greener. The issue for China isn't an environmental one—it's about space. Last December, a landfill in Shenzhen amassed so much litter that it collapsed, killing 12 people in the process. This proposal reduces the amount of space needed to store trash, making more room for housing development. Compared to a standard landfill, the waste-to-energy plant is significantly better for the environment. The former releases large quantities of potent greenhouse gases as rash decays and decomposes. “Burning waste naturally creates pollutants, mainly carbon dioxide—something in the region of one metric ton of CO2 per metric ton of waste," Architect Chris Hardie told Fast Company. “This does not sound great for sure, but when you compare it to putting the waste to landfill, one metric ton of waste will ultimately produce somewhere in the region of 60 cubic meters of methane as it decomposes—and this has more than twice the negative effect on global warming.” The Shenzhen plant isn't unique, either. China has 300 more litter-guzzling incinerators in the pipeline as it tries to prevent disasters like the one in Shenzhen last year and solve the country's waste problem. Like Ingels's plan for a power plant, this one also offers an unexpected feature of human interaction. A pedestrian pathway, hugs the interior perimeter, winding its way around the mile-long circumference. The roof has been designed to include 473,600 square feet of solar panelling. Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 18.46.00
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Arquitectonica leads design team for three Toronto towers

Arquitectonica in collaboration with New York firm S9 Architecture and Toronto-based Sweeney & Co. Architects have designed three mid-rise residential towers in Toronto, the tallest of which will be 526 feet high. The project is being spearheaded by WAM Development Group and will occupy a four-acre plot between 245–285 Queen East and Sherbourne and Ontario Streets as well as 348–412 on Richmond. Upon brief observation, the towers look like three lowercase i's aligned in a row. This is due to a recreational floor two-thirds up each of the towers. These spaces will house indoor and outdoor amenities including a living garden patio. The tallest tower, 45 stories tall, sits in the middle flanked by the other two slightly smaller buildings, both 466 feet high (39 storeys). At pedestrian level, the towers will be connected by a retail podium and public space. According to regional commentary forum Urban Toronto the "massive redevelopment will completely change the height, density, and urban character of Queen and Sherbourne." In terms of density, the trio of towers will add 1,645 housing units to the vicinity, being divvied up into 340 single bedroom; 832 single-bedroom with "den"; 235 double bedroom; 69 two-bedroom with "den", and 169 three-bedroom apartments. Of the 1,645 units, 1,110 are currently planned as rentable spaces. As for the public realm, brick paving has been used to contrast the glazed facade of the towers, creating a much more localized place and offering an alternate sense of scale. Within the area, protection from the elements will come in the form of a glass canopy so to maintain the aspect of openness.
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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.