Gruen Associates Clad Utility Plant in Flowing Steel

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Gruen Associates wrapped the new LAX Central Utility Plant in a sleek envelope of stainless steel and corrugated aluminum. (Courtesy Gruen Associates)

Gruen Associates wrapped the new LAX Central Utility Plant in a sleek envelope of stainless steel and corrugated aluminum. (Courtesy Gruen Associates)

Curved metal facade embodies spirit of mobility at LAX.

The commission to design a new Central Utility Plant (CUP) for Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) came with a major caveat: the original 1960s-era CUP would remain online throughout construction, providing heating and cooling to adjacent passenger terminals until the new plant was ready to take over. Read More

Cincinnati’s newest police station is also one of the city’s greenest buildings

Rendering of Cincinnati's new Police District 3 headquarters, which officials say will achieve LEED Platinum. Local firm emersion led the design.(City of Cincinnati)

Rendering of Cincinnati’s new Police District 3 headquarters, which officials say will achieve LEED Platinum. Local firm emersion led the design. (City of Cincinnati)

Last week Cincinnati officials lauded the opening of a new police station that they’re calling one of the nation’s greenest buildings devoted to public safety.

Continue reading after the jump.

VernerJohnson Sets Museum Ablaze with Dichroic Glass

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VernerJohnson's Museum at Prairiefire features a multi-colored envelope in dichroic glass, iridescent steel, and Kansas limestone. (Sam Fentress)

VernerJohnson’s Museum at Prairiefire features a multi-colored envelope in dichroic glass, iridescent steel, and Kansas limestone. (Sam Fentress)

Faceted facade evokes regenerative prairie burns.

For most projects, admits VernerJohnson‘s Jonathan Kharfen, architects steer clear of evoking a potentially destructive force like fire. But Museum at Prairiefire, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) outpost in Overland Park, Kansas, proved an exception to the rule. Read More

Shanghai Talks> Watch SOM’s top sustainable engineer talk air quality, environmental design

Zhengzhou Greenland Plaza, a 280-meter-tall SOM tower Leung worked on. (© Si-ye Zhang)

Zhengzhou Greenland Plaza, a 918-foot-tall SOM tower Leung worked on. (Si-ye Zhang)

Last September, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat invited me to serve as the special media correspondent for its Shanghai symposium, entitled Future Cities: Towards Sustainable Vertical Urbanism.

I conducted video interviews with dozens of architects, developers, building managers, and others on topics relevant to tall building design and sustainable urbanism. Among the many designers, engineers and other tall building types I interviewed was Luke Leung, director of sustainable engineering for SOM.

Watch the interview after the jump.

Oberlin breaks ground on LEED Platinum hotel complex by Solomon Cordwell Buenz

(SCB, The Olympia Companies)

(SCB, The Olympia Companies)

Work is currently underway on a new mixed-use development at Ohio’s Oberlin College that, once complete later this year, will include one of only a handful of hotels pursuing LEED Platinum certification in the United States.

Continue reading after the jump.

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.)

Continue reading after the jump.

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

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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