Beantown Goes Deep Green with ISA

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Interface Studio Architects' 226-232 Highland was the first project built under Boston's E+ Green Building Program. (Sam Oberter)

Interface Studio Architects’ 226-232 Highland was the first project built under Boston’s E+ Green Building Program. (Sam Oberter)

Boston launches a sustainable housing initiative with net-zero energy townhomes.

As anyone who has come into contact with Red Sox Nation knows, Bostonians tend not to believe in half measures. A case in point is the city’s E+ Green Building Program, a joint initiative of the Office of Environment & Energy Services, the Department of Neighborhood Development, and the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Designed to demonstrate the feasibility of building net-zero energy, multi-unit housing in an urban context, the program made its built debut in 2013 with 226-232 Highland Street, a development consisting of four three-bedroom townhomes in Boston‘s Roxbury neighborhood. The building achieved substantial energy savings on a tight budget in part through a highly insulated facade constructed from conventional materials. “The envelope is key,” explained Interface Studio Architects (ISA) principal Brian Phillips. “We design many super high performance projects and we believe strongly in the quality of the envelope as the starting point.”
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Jeanne Gang, Wanda Group unveil new renderings for supertall Wanda Vista tower in Chicago

(Studio Gang Architects)

(Studio Gang Architects)

Studio Gang’s Wanda Tower may climb even higher than originally planned. New renderings revealed Monday night show the tower topping out at 93 stories instead of the previous 88. At 1,144 feet, the tower, whose development is being bankrolled by Beijing-based Wanda Group, would be the third-tallest tower in Chicago (provided it fits the standards of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, who arbitrate such matters.)

Continue reading after the jump.

Chicago’s Field Museum becomes just second such building to get Gold under LEED EB O+M

Chicago's Field Museum (GoCal83 via Flickr)

Chicago’s Field Museum (GoCal83 via Flickr)

Chicago‘s natural history museum, the Field Museum, announced Monday it has earned a Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council under the LEED for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance (EB O+M) program, becoming just the second museum in the nation to do so. (The Madison Children’s Museum is the other.)

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Net Zero and the Future of Facade Design

Next week, leaders in the fields of facades design and fabrication will gather in LA to discuss pressing issues, including sustainability. (Neil Kremer/Flickr)

Next week, leaders in the fields of facades design and fabrication will gather in LA to discuss pressing issues, including sustainability. (Neil Kremer/Flickr)

Though sustainability remains a primary goal for many AEC industry professionals, its definition is increasingly up for debate. Tried-and-true energy efficiency standards such as LEED and Energy Star are facing competition from other rubrics, including net zero. “LEED was the sustainability measure,” said CO Architects‘ Alex Korter. “It’s good, but people looked at it more as a certification. With net zero, you’re setting hard performance goals.” With his colleague Kevin Kavanagh, Korter will lead a panel on “Net Zero and the Future Facade” at Facades+ LA next week. Korter, Kavanagh, and the panelists—who include ARUP‘s Russell Fortmeyer, Atelier 10‘s Emilie Hagen, and Stephane Hoffman from Morrison Hershfield—will dig in to the what and why of net zero, and ask how facade designers and builders can push the envelope on environmental performance.

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Riverfront Revival by Shalom Baranes

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Shalom Baranes' renovation of a 1984 office building transformed a waterfront eyesore into a sleek condominium complex. (Thomas Arledge Photography)

Shalom Baranes’ renovation of a 1984 office building transformed a waterfront eyesore into a sleek condominium complex. (Thomas Arledge Photography)

Brick and metal transform a tired office block into a residential building worthy of its site.

Located on a slice of land adjacent to the Potomac River in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, the 1984 Sheet Metal Workers Union National Pension Fund building failed to live up to the site’s potential. “I’ve used this in a couple of lectures,” said Shalom Baranes Associates principal Patrick Burkhart. “I show ‘before’ photos and ask the audience, ‘What is this building?’ The answers include: ‘It looks like an urban jail.'” When the property came on the market, Maryland-based developer EYA seized the opportunity to transform the waterfront eyesore into a contemporary condominium complex. Clad in brick and metal paneling, with high performance glazing emphasizing views along the Potomac, the Oronoco balances a sleek urban aesthetic with sensitivity to Old Town’s historic fabric.

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Merge Rides the Waves in Bangalore

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Merge's HUB-1 office tower features a modular passive shading system. (Courtesy Merge Studio)

Merge’s HUB-1 office tower features a modular passive shading system. (Courtesy Merge Studio)

Modular self-shading system delivers budget-friendly environmental performance.

Tapped to design the facade for the HUB-1 office building at Karle Town Centre in Bangalore, India, New York–based Merge Studio faced a two-pronged challenge: crafting an efficient envelope that would beat the heat without breaking the developer’s budget. Moreover, the architects (whose role later expanded to include landscape and public space design) aspired to lend the twelve-story tower, the first in the 3.6 million-square-foot SEZ development, an iconic appearance. “The idea was that we bring together the aesthetics of the facade and make it performative as well,” explained Merge founder and advisor Varun Kohli. Despite financial constraints dictated by India’s competitive development market, Merge delivered, designing a modular facade comprising metal and glass “waves” that cut solar gain while allowing light and air to penetrate the interior.
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New Buildings Institute catalogues the nation’s net-zero buildings

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation's headquarters in Los Altos, California is a relatively rare example of certified net-zero built work in the U.S. Completed in 2012, the building features a sophisticated cooling system, natural ventilation, and is certified LEED Platinum. (Jeremy Bittermann via Esherick Homsey Dodge & Davis)

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s headquarters in Los Altos, California is a relatively rare example of certified net-zero built work in the U.S. Completed in 2012, the building features a sophisticated cooling system, natural ventilation, and is certified LEED Platinum. (Jeremy Bittermann via Esherick Homsey Dodge & Davis)

The Vancouver-based New Buildings Institute (NBI) tracks energy efficient built work, and their 2014 update, “Getting to Zero”, provides a snapshot of the emerging U.S. market for net-zero buildings—those are structures that use no more energy than they can gather on site.

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Pictorial> Studio Gang’s sylvan retreat in Kalamazoo, Michigan

(Iwan Baan)

(Iwan Baan)

Studio Gang Architects‘ Arcus Center at Kalamazoo College in Michigan broke ground in 2012. Now photos of this sylvan study space are available, following its September opening. And they don’t disappoint.

View the images after the jump.

Talking tall buildings in Shanghai

In September the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) gathered high-minded designers, developers and engineers for a conference in Shanghai. CTBUH, which often partners with AN on conferences, including our own Facades+ events, invited me to serve as a special media correspondent for the conference, held September 16–19. I spent most of the time conducting video interviews with the symposium guests, which we’ll post here on the AN blog as they become available. For now, here’ a quick overview of the topics discussed.

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Unveiled> Norman Foster & Fernando Romero team up to design Mexico City’s new $9.2 billion airport

Mexico City's new airport will aim for a light environmental footprint through natural ventilation and a massive central hub. (foster + partners / FR-EE)

Mexico City’s new airport will aim for a light environmental footprint through natural ventilation and a massive central hub. (foster + partners / FR-EE)

A new international airport for Mexico City won’t just fix the problems of its predecessor—which typically delays planes because the two runways were built too close together—it will be unique in its efficient expansive single enclosure, according to its architects, Foster + Partners and FR-EE.

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HGA Updates a Minneapolis Landmark

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HGA's Nelson Cultural Center, clad in slate shingles and art glass, complements the historic Turnblad Mansion. (Paul Crosby Photography)

HGA’s Nelson Cultural Center, clad in slate shingles and art glass, complements the historic Turnblad Mansion. (Paul Crosby Photography)

Slate-clad addition to the American Swedish Institute evokes contemporary Scandinavian design.

Minneapolis-based architecture, engineering, and planning firm HGA faced a tall order when the American Swedish Institute asked them to design an addition to the building known locally as “The Castle.” The turreted Turnblad Mansion, constructed in Minneapolis’ Phillips West neighborhood in 1908 and home of ASI since 1929, lacked the kinds of multi-purpose spaces required by ASI’s cultural and educational programming—and was suffering wear and tear from a steady stream of visitors. “The project was about creating a front door that was more welcoming and inviting than the existing building, that can help protect the mansion and allow it to be used as a house museum,” said project architect Andy Weyenberg. At the same time,  “the mansion remained the focal point,” he explained. “It will always be the identity of ASI. Everything we did, we wanted to respect the mansion and keep it as a centerpiece.” HGA’s intervention honors the primacy of the Turnblad Mansion while updating ASI’s image with a contemporary facade inspired by Swedish building methods and materials.

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Lake|Flato Beats the Heat at ASU

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Lake|Flato replaced an inefficient one-story wing with a two-story volume wrapped in a high-performance facade. (Bill Timmerman)

Lake|Flato replaced an inefficient one-story wing with a two-story volume wrapped in a high-performance facade. (Bill Timmerman)

LEED Platinum renovation reconnects the Health Services Building to the campus core.

Early in their renovation of the Arizona State University Health Services Building, Lake|Flato Architects, working with orcutt | winslow, decided to scrap the university’s initial concept in favor of a plan that would reengage the campus’s historic pedestrian corridor, the Palm Walk. Instead of building an addition to the north side of the existing facility, which included a serviceable two-story building constructed in the 1950s and another structure Lake|Flato partner Andrew Herdeg described as “a rambling one-story rabbit warren of spaces,” the architects elected to demolish the one-story wing and build a two-story addition in its place. “This initial idea that we need to look at the basic concept before we start the design, and think about it from the campus design perspective, changed everything,” said Herdeg. It allowed the design team to reduce the program by about 12 percent and reduce the footprint by 20 percent, as well as to preserve 5,000 square feet of green space for programs and stormwater mitigation. But it also presented a challenge. The renovated building’s primary identity would be on the east facade of the building, where the desert sun had the potential to undo efficiencies gained elsewhere.
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