Building technology research center features wood, integrated photovoltaics, and green wall.When John Robinson began formulating a vision for the University of British Columbia's (UBC) Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS), he did not start small. Robinson, who is responsible for integrating academic and operational sustainability at the university's Vancouver campus, dreamed of constructing the most sustainable building in North America, a monument to and testing ground for energy-generating strategies. Invited to join the project in 2001, architects Perkins+Will sought an approach combining passive design and innovative technology. Featuring a facade of locally manufactured wood panels, high performance glazing, solar shading with integrated photovoltaics, and a green wall sunscreen, CIRS is a living laboratory for the research and practice of sustainable design. The initial concept for the building included 22 goals centered on three themes, explained Perkins+Will's Jana Foit. First, CIRS was to have a net positive environmental impact. In addition, the structure was designed to provide an adaptive, healthy, and socially generative workplace for researchers, staff, and students. Third, CIRS would utilize smart building technologies for real-time user feedback and testing. The building envelope was a critical component of the project's overall environmental strategy on both conceptual and practical levels. "The overarching design idea is to communicate sustainability, to make it visible and apparent," said Foit. In terms of pragmatics, the architects focused on reducing heat gain and providing 100 percent daylighting to the interiors. To reduce solar gain, Perkins+Will reduced the window area from the current code of 40 percent maximum to 31 percent. They installed fixed and operable triple-glazed windows on the ground floor, and fixed and operable double-glazed windows above. For cladding, the architects selected Multiple Ply Cedar Panels from locally-developed Silva Panel—one of the first solid wood products designed for rain screen application. "The exterior panels were detailed and designed to be removable, to allow for material testing and research," said Foit. CIRS' two-pronged solar shading program includes a network of fixed shades with integrated photovoltaics and a green wall. The former results in 24,427 kilowatt-hours per year in energy savings. The architects designed the green wall, meanwhile, to protect the west-facing atrium, which lacks a mechanical heating or cooling system. Together with a combination of solid spandrel and vision glass, the living screen achieves 50 percent shade during the warmer months. "The plants are chocolate vines, which lose their leaves in winter, allowing passive heat gain into the building," explained Foit. "In the summer, when the vines are in full bloom, the leaves provide shading for the atrium." In an important sense, the CIRS story did not conclude once construction was complete in 2011. Rather, the proof of CIRS' value as a demonstration tool is in its ongoing operations. The building returns an impressive 600 megawatt-hours of surplus energy to the UBC campus each year—and continues to rack up sustainability prizes, including the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada's 2015 Green Building Award. But perhaps more importantly, thanks to publicly available performance data and a "lessons learned" document compiled by UBC, CIRS has fulfilled Robinson's dream of promoting green design through the construction of a transparent, replicable model.
Posts tagged with "Wood":
“Very long horizontal flues are unusual because smoke wants to go up, so it’s very challenging to keep it from stagnating,” says Davidson, a UB clinical assistant professor of architecture. “Many of the masons we talked to said they couldn’t do a horizontal flue longer than 8 feet.”Rochester, New York's Empire Masonry Heaters could, however. They helped the architects enliven the flue chamber, covering the refractory cement with patterned tiles reminiscent of an intricate mosaic. Their ornamental chamber doubles as a café bench. The kachelofen is known in North America simply as a masonry heater. While its winter-busting abilities are new to Buffalo, it is a centuries-old form of heating in Northern Europe. North America is “a fertile ground for new developments on masonry heater construction,” said the architects of the cheekily-dubbed Cafe Fargo. “It seems also with a widening consciousness about 'green' forms of heating, and rising heating costs, the good old masonry heater is grabbing peoples' interest,” they told AN. At only 880 square feet, their cafe is well-suited to the system. But Davidson and Rafailidis said masonry heating could work in larger spaces, too, but it might require several heaters to evenly heat multiple rooms. Wood-fired systems also need to be constantly monitored. Buffalo takes a degree of pride in its cold and snowy conditions, but if you've warmed up to the radiant heat of Cafe Fargo you may want to drop by—it's still looking for a tenant.
Terra cotta rain screen transforms brutalist eyesore into energy-efficient community space.Considered an aesthetic and functional failure almost since its construction in 1974, the old public library in Lawrence, Kansas, was overdue for a renovation four decades later. Gould Evans' challenge was to transform the low-slung brutalist behemoth, a poor environmental performer lacking both adequate daylighting and a sense of connection to the community, into an asset. "The desire was to try to come up with a building that basically reinvented the library for the community," said vice president Sean Zaudke. Rather than tacking an addition on to one end of the existing structure, the architects elected to wrap a 20,000-square-foot reading room and open stacks area around the old facade. In so doing, they altered the exterior for the better, swapping bare concrete for an earth-hued terra cotta rain screen punctuated by plentiful glazing. They also significantly enhanced the library's environmental performance, with early estimates suggesting that the new Lawrence Public Library will see a 50 percent reduction in energy usage despite a 50 percent increase in square footage. The decision to entirely enclose the old building within the addition was a critical component of the architects' sustainability strategy. "It allowed us to come up with a continuous facade utilizing a continuous insulation system," explained Zaudke. "It helped a lot with energy performance." Gould Evans chose a terra cotta rain screen from NBK to better tie the library to its surroundings. The building is located in an interstitial zone, immediately adjacent to buildings constructed in the 1950s but not far from Lawrence's thriving historic downtown. "We selected terra cotta because it could play by both sets of rules," said Zaudke. "It has an historic connotation, but it's also a much more modern-looking material." Daylighting was another of the architects' key concerns. "Because there were so few windows in the old library, wherever you went there was a sort of phototropic behavior," said Zaudke. "People just gathered around the windows. The rest was not as utilized." Gould Evans significantly altered the user experience by creating an open reading room within the wraparound addition, all of which is exposed to daylight. Other library functions are contained within the core, which in turn is lit both by a continuous clerestory and a series of Solatubes. The clerestory also prevents glare within the reading room by illuminating the inside of the facade. Gould Evans used prescriptive data to determine the overall balance of terra cotta to glass on the new facade—about 60/40—as well as on each exterior wall. To reduce thermal gain on the east and west faces, the architects placed terra cotta baguettes over each horizontal slit window. Together, the baguettes and the depth of the wall act as sunshades. As for Lawrence Public Library's old concrete facade, "we didn't want to just pretend it wasn't there," said Zaudke. Instead, Gould Evans partially overlaid it with a tongue-in-groove system of unstained wood. "The concrete had a harsh feel to it," explained Zaudke. "By wrapping it with wood and revealing it in places, there's this nice dialog that occurs. Everywhere it opens up is where some core function reveals itself—it's an interesting dynamic." At the library entrance, the architects brought the wood outside, encased in glass to protect it from the elements, said Zaudke. "That vocabulary of cracking open the library, of making it accessible, is present at the entry."
Undulating birch walls create pockets of privacy in an apartment building lobby.When Boston design and fabrication firm Radlab began work on Clefs Moiré, the permanent installation in the lobby of One North of Boston in Chelsea, Massachusetts, they had relatively little to go on. They knew that the apartment building's developer wanted a pair of walls of a certain size to activate the lobby space, but that was about it. "Normally we get more information, so we can come up with a story—a concept based on the building and its requirement," said Radlab's Matt Trimble. "For this we pulled back and said, we have an opportunity to be a little more abstract about how we approach this conceptually." Inspired by moiré patterning and a harpsichord composition by J.S. Bach, the team designed and built two slatted birch walls whose undulating surfaces embody a dialog between transparency and opacity. The client's interest in achieving moments of privacy within a public space led Radlab to moiré patterning, the phenomenon in which a third pattern emerges when two other semi-transparent patterns are superimposed on one another. Trimble compares the moiré effect to standing in a cornfield. "It's not until that moment when you look at it from the perpendicular that you see the rows of corn," he said. "When you look to either side, the crossing prevents you from seeing depths." The designers decided to think about the two walls as a single volume that would later be split. "There's this potential for reading it as a single wall when you look at it from different perspectives," explained Trimble. "This made sense because the project is about viewpoint. If you're perpendicular to the wall, you see straight through it." Radlab began with a traditional approach to moiré patterning, playing with identical vertical components set askew to one another. Then they looked at J.S. Bach's Partita No. 2 in B-flat Major: Gigue. Bach's challenging composition requires the performer to cross his or her hands, the left hand playing the treble clef while the right hand plays the bass. "That became an inspiration for a way to structure and organize the two walls," said Trimble. "To think of one as being the result of a bass set of wavelengths, and the other as a treble set." The designers realized that they could modulate the metaphorical wavelengths across both the vertical and horizontal sections to create an interesting, and varied, third element. "That's where the Gigue became influential," said Trimble. "It gave us a way to create a rhythm in the wall that would pace itself." The team relied heavily on Rhino and Grasshopper both to design the installation and to plan fabrication. "We would create various iterations in 3D modeling software, then disassemble them into the flat XY plane and try to understand: how would we actually build this?" said Trimble. Simpson Gumpertz & Heger's Paul Kassabian provided crucial help with structural engineering, including designing a base plate that is invisible except when the wall is viewed from a 90-degree angle. Radlab CNC-milled the wood slats and spacers before coating them with varnish. "Fabrication was long and arduous, but it challenged us in really great ways," said Trimble. The group developed a hanging mechanism to efficiently apply fire retardant to the ribs. To prevent varnish from adhering to the points of connection between the ribs and spacers, they fabricated each spacer twice, once out of birch, and once out of chipboard. They affixed the chipboard templates to the ribs before spraying the varnish, leaving an untouched patch for the final spacer. "It was process-intensive, there was no getting around that," recalled Trimble. "But we embraced that process-intensive journey from the onset, to see if there were ways we could be creative about creating improvements to make fabrication more efficient." On site, Radlab laid down templates of the base plates to drill holes for the anchor bolts, then returned with the walls themselves. Each wall was prefabricated of four panels and assembled in the shop. "They tilted up almost like tilt-up concrete walls," said Trimble. In addition to having inspired the form of Clefs Moiré, Bach's Gigue works as a metaphor for how the finished walls perform in space. "It starts and stops abruptly," explained Trimble. "There's no crescendo or tapering of intensity. The walls do the exact same thing: there is no rising up from the ground or falling into it. They start and stop in a similar way."
Custom sliding wood shades maximize privacy and views in Adirondack Mountains retreat.Architect-led design build firm GLUCK+ designed the Lakeside Retreat in the Adirondack Mountains on an historic blueprint: the Great Camps, sprawling summer compounds built by vacationing families during the second half of the nineteenth century. "The clients wanted to hold events there, and to make a place where their kids—who were in college at the time—would want to spend time," said project manager Kathy Chang. "They wanted to create different ways of occupying the space." GLUCK+ carved the hilly wooded site into a series of semi-subterranean buildings, of which the two principal structures are the family house and the recreation building. These buildings are, in turn, distinguished by massive lake-facing glass facades, camouflaged by wooden screens designed to maximize both privacy and views. The project, explained Chang, "was really about sculpting in and out of the landscape, manipulating the ground plane." By using the existing site as a primary element of construction, the GLUCK+ team was able to accomplish two things. First, "it gave us a new level area for the clients to hang out outside," said Chang. "It provided a new way to occupy the site, because before there was no flat ground." Second, they were able to manipulate the program so that the mechanical spaces were tucked into the underground portions of the houses, making way for a transparent facade along the lakeside. "The fact that so much of the program is buried allowed us to build the glass facade, despite the energy requirements," said Chang. The custom curtain wall is in fact quite simple, said Chang. "What made it custom was sizes and the ability to integrate the screen support: we have various slope conditions, and at the highest point the pieces are really very heavy." GLUCK+ installed Siegenia lift and slide hardware to insure easy operation of even the largest sliding glass doors. "The client was really intrigued with the idea of open sleeping porches," said Chang. "They wanted to be able to open up the house and have the breeze come through." The screen system was partly a response to concerns expressed by the local environmental commission. "The commission was very nervous about having a tall glass building facing the lake," recalled Chang. "We set the buildings back from the lake, in the trees. In addition, part of the idea of the screen was to break down reflections from the glass so that it wouldn't be so apparent from the lake." The wood shades are arranged in two layers, both attached at the top to the underside of the roof slab. Stainless steel outriggers placed in the window system between the first and second stories provide an additional point of attachment for the screens above and below. To reduce the gravity load, the outriggers are supported by cables attached to the roof slab. Each screen comprises thermally modified poplar slats from Cambia Wood affixed to a Cor-ten frame with horizontal steel elements for additional strength. "We calculated that there's almost four miles of wood, so we really spent a lot of time looking at different options, at different ways to price it and build it," said Chang. "We looked at doing this in mahogany or other woods typical for outside use, but both the weight and expense were prohibitive." GLUCK+ performed analyses to determine which rooms would require more or less privacy, or open spaces at sitting or standing levels for views. Many of the screens are designed to slide from side to side. In addition, some individual slats can be rotated to enhance privacy. On the top level of the buildings, the (fixed) inner layer of screening doubles as a balcony guardrail. GLUCK+ used the same poplar on the buildings' other exterior walls, some of which are occupied underneath, others serving as filler. "We used the same wood in a more solid condition to try to tie those walls in with the screen, and with the solid earth," said Chang. "It's really hard to tell where the building stops and the landscape begins." Because one building was ahead of the other during construction, Chang and her colleagues had the opportunity to compare the uncovered curtain wall with its shaded neighbor. "The unscreened building just looked naked and cold," she said. "It didn't have this life to it." The clients, reluctant at first to embrace the screens, agreed. "In the beginning of the process, the clients were a little worried about losing the view," recalled Chang. "We needed iterations of the mockups to convince them: no, it's actually adding to it. It ended up being one of their favorite parts of the whole project."
Owner-built interior explores the transition from two dimensions to three.For his latest venture, The Montrose in Park Slope, Brooklyn, whisky bar proprietor and former contractor Steve Owen (with partners Michael Ferrie and Alex Wade) wanted a rough, industrial look evocative of an Old World distillery. "He was coming at it sort of from an antique perspective, as a pastiche," said B. Alex Miller, partner at Taylor and Miller Architecture and Design. "We were thinking of it in a different way." Taylor and Miller, who had worked with Owen on several projects when he was a practicing contractor, noticed the prevalence of wood herringbone patterning on the walls and floors of the spaces Owen was inspired by. "We'd done some other herringbone studies," said Miller. "We said, 'This is something that's often done in a high-end scenario. Let's pare it down to the barest of essentials, just do it out of 2-by-4 pine, do it in grain on the walls.'" The design of The Montrose became, said Miller, "a very basic exercise in transitioning from a two-dimensional to a three-dimension pattern," in which individual boards were pulled away from the wall in the z direction. Working in Rhino, the architects explored multiple iterations of the form, including the different textures created when a unit was defined as a single stick versus a two-board L. The ceiling, along which boards are arrayed lengthwise, also received a three-dimensional treatment. "There were some really interesting relationships in the ceiling," observed Miller, "almost like a musical score." Though the herringbone patterning was developed almost entirely on the computer, Taylor and Miller wanted to avoid the sense of an overly precise, machine-made space—hence the use of standard lumber. "We're often looking at very basic materials, at how to do it in a repetitive way so that the human intervention is felt," said Miller. "We wanted to make it a little more than a highly fabricated, laser-cut, pristine sort of thing." Owen built The Montrose's interior himself. "Because he was a friend, and a contractor, we could remove a lot of the documentation that would normally be required," said Miller. In fact, Owen soon abandoned the digital models Taylor and Miller passed along. "Once he figured out the system, we were able to give him just data points, just coordinates," said Miller. "It was a feedback loop: he was interpreting what we gave him. He said, 'Okay, just give me the z data off the wall.' We joked that he was seeing the Matrix a little bit." The installation itself was "dumb, in a good way," said Miller, requiring nothing more than nails and the occasional screw. "When we're doing something like this that we know is hyper-labor-intensive, it can't be complicated from an install point of view. There's nothing overly polished; it's just dirty." That messiness is exactly what Miller most appreciates about the finished product. "When we go in there now, some of the curves are a little bit rough," he said. "You can see these—they're mistakes, frankly, but I love the space because of it. This is not a highly precious thing, this is not a highly sculptured piece. It's someone interpreting our concept."
Net zero energy, LEED Platinum project raises the bar on eco-friendly office design.For its new headquarters in Los Altos, California, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation put its building budget where its mouth is. The philanthropic organization, whose four program areas include conservation and science, asked San Francisco-based EHDD to design a net zero energy, LEED Platinum building that would serve as a model of cutting-edge green building techniques. “They wanted to achieve net zero in a way that was replicable, and that showed the path forward for others to follow,” said project manager Brad Jacobson. “It was not just a one-off thing, not just a showcase.” The building’s facade was fundamental to its success as an example of sustainable design. “We were surprised at how significant the envelope is, even in the most benign climate,” said Jacobson. “Pushing the envelope to really high performance made significant energy and comfort impacts, and could be justified even on a first-cost basis.” EHDD began by considering the building’s siting. Because the street grid in Los Altos is angled 40 degrees to the south, orienting to the street would result in a long southwest elevation. The architects asked daylighting consultants Loisos + Ubbelohde what penalty this would entail. “They said you have to keep all solar gain out of the southwest facade; if you do that, the energy penalty will be in the realm of less than five percent,” recalled Jacobson. “But you really have to do an excellent job on sunshading. That was our mission.” EHDD designed deep overhangs over much of the facade’s southwest face, and added balconies and shade trees for additional protection. Where the glazing remained exposed, they installed external movable blinds from Nysan that operate on an astronomic time clock. “The blinds worked really well,” said Jacobson. “We were surprised how easy they were to commission and get working, and how relatively robust they are.” Thermal bridging was another area of concern for the architects. EHDD worked with Atelier Ten on thermal modeling of the wall, and discovered that any metal stud wall would sacrifice performance. They opted instead for wood stud construction, and switched to 24 on center framing to reduce thermal bridging through the framing structure. For insulation, the architects added one-inch external mineral wallboard from Roxul. On advice from structural engineers Tipping Mar, they installed FRP plates to separate external elements like balconies from the main structure. Because of the building’s location, EHDD did not initially consider triple glazing for the Packard Foundation offices. “We wrote it off at first,” said Jacobson. “We thought, that can’t be cost effective in this climate.” But Integral Group’s energy analysis convinced the design team otherwise. The improvement in comfort allowed by triple element windows from Serious Materials (now Alpen HPP) was such that the architects were able to eliminate a planned perimeter heating system, resulting in an estimated savings of twice the cost of the glazing upgrade. “It’s a really good envelope,” said Jacobson. “We did heat sensor testing of the building, and you can really see that it’s working as it’s supposed to. You don’t see the studs, and the windows are not leaking a lot of heat, so that’s been a real success.” The architects clad the building in local and sustainable materials, including FSC-certified western red cedar, stone sourced from within a 500-mile radius, and architectural copper. “Architectural copper is a really interesting material,” observed Jacobson. “It’s actually about 80-90 percent recycled because it’s valued. It doesn’t need refinishing and it patinas nicely. For a building being built to last 100 years, it has a good shot at never needing to be refinished or replaced.” Jacobson summarizes his firm’s approach to the design of the Packard Foundation headquarters as “Passive House light.” “At the same time we were doing a Passive House for a climate science researcher we’d worked with in the past,” he said. “We were working on both and learning from each. It’s a different type of building, but a lot of the same principles apply: good air sealing, eliminating thermal bridging, and pushing the envelope further than you think makes sense.”
Rotterdam Centraal Station's relationship to the existing urban fabric called for different treatments of its north and south facades.To call the commission for a new central railway station in Rotterdam complicated would be an understatement. The project had multiple clients, including the city council and the railway company ProRail. The program was complex, encompassing the north and south station halls, train platforms, concourse, commercial space, offices, outdoor public space, and more. Finally, there was the station’s relationship to Rotterdam itself: while city leaders envisioned the south entrance as a monumental gateway to the city, the proximity of an historic neighborhood to the north necessitated a more temperate approach. Team CS, a collaboration among Benthem Crouwel Architekten, MVSA Meyer en Van Schooten Architecten, and West 8, achieved a balancing act with a multipart facade conceived over the project’s decade-long gestation. On the south, Rotterdam Centraal Station trumpets its presence with a swooping triangular stainless steel and glass entryway, while to the north a delicate glass-house exterior defers to the surrounding urban fabric. Team CS, which formed in response to the 2003 competition to design the station, began with a practical question: how should they cover the railroad tracks? Rotterdam Centraal Station serves Dutch Railways, the European High Speed Train network, and RandstadRail, the regional light rail system. Team CS wanted to enclose all of the tracks within a single structure, but they came up against two problems. First, the client team had budgeted for multiple freestanding shelters rather than a full roof. Second, this part of the project was designated a design-construct tender in which the winning contractor would have a high degree of control over the final design. To work around both issues, Team CS turned to an unusual source: agricultural buildings. “We started to come up with a project built from catalog materials, so efficient and so simple that any contractor would maybe think, ‘I’m going to build what they draw because then I can do a competition on being cheap, and then I don’t need to [reinvent] the wheel,’” explained West 8’s Geuze. For the spans, they chose prelaminated wood beams meant for barns and similar structures from GLC. They designed the five-acre roof as an oversized Venlo greenhouse. It comprises 30,000 laminated glass panels manufactured by Scheuten. Integrated solar cells, also provided by Scheuten, produce about one-third of the energy required to run Rotterdam Centraal Station’s escalators. The north facade of the station continues the glass house theme. “We [took] the roof and we pull[ed] it over to the facade and made the entire elevation out of that,” explained Geuze. “What is on the roof becomes vertically the same. In plan you see a zigzag sort of meandering facade.” By day, the glass reflects the nineteenth-century brick architecture characteristic of the Provenierswijk neighborhood in which the station is located. At night, the relatively modest entrance seems almost to fade into the sky, except for a slice of white LED lettering over the passenger portal. Rotterdam Centraal Station’s south facade, by contrast, is self consciously extroverted. The entryway, which spans 300 feet over the subway station, was given a “very sculptural identity,” said Geuze, with a triangular mouth framed by stainless steel panels. ME Construct welded the 30-foot-long panels one to another to create a non-permeable surface. Within the steel surround are horizontal glass panels (Scheuten) through which the vertical interior structural beams are visible. “This plays beautifully with the station because the roof makes a triangle. The horizontal and vertical lines are a beautiful composition within,” said Geuze. Two reminders of the 1957 central station, demolished to make way for the new iteration, make an appearance on the south facade. The first is the old station clock. The second is the historic sign, restored in LED. “They are in a beautiful font, blue neon letters,” said Geuze. “We put them very low on the facade, the letters. The font became a part of the identity.” While its preponderance of glass and stainless steel marks it as a contemporary creation, Rotterdam Centraal Station was inspired by historic precedents, like Los Angeles’ Union Station and the European railway stations of the 1800s. Geuze spoke of the interior’s warm material palette, including a rough wood ceiling by Verwol that bleeds onto the building’s south facade. “We thought we could learn a lot [from history] instead of making what is totally the [norm] today with granite from China,” he said. “We have to make a station which is part of this tradition of cathedrals, where the use and aging is relevant and interesting.”