“Living” skin lands HOK designers first place in Chicago Living Building Challenge competition

Architecture, Awards, Midwest, News
Thursday, June 5, 2014
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HOK's design for an addition to Chicago's Eli Whitney Elementary School employs a "living" bimetallic skin. (Courtesy HOK)

HOK’s design for an addition to Chicago’s Eli Whitney Elementary School employs a “living” bimetallic skin. (Courtesy HOK)

With a “living” skin of bimetallic strips, four HOK architects have won a Chicago Living Building Challenge competition to design an addition for a school on Chicago’s Southwest Side.

The 2014 School Annex Design Competition, organized by the Living Building Challenge Collaborative: Chicago (LBCCC), asked entrants to design a new building for overcrowded Eli Whitney Elementary School while meeting the strict environmental standards of the Living Building Challenge, which include omitting a long list of banned building materials.

Eli Whitney Elementary School in Chicago's Little Village.

Eli Whitney Elementary School in Chicago’s Little Village.

HOK team members Lindy McAra, Justin Warner, Meredith McBride, Olia Miho and Farid Pour fashioned an addition for the school in Little Village (South Lawndale), a predominantly Latino neighborhood on Chicago’s Southwest Side. Architects +Space are working on a master plan for public magnet school under the Green Schoolyards for Healthy Students program.

From the winning team’s press release:

An active, “living” exterior skin acts as a shading device and learning tool by changing shape based on the outside temperature. This strategy draws on the principle of bimetallic strips. When the exterior temperature rises, the panels of aluminum and oxidized copper close, thus acting as a shading device. Once the temperature cools, the panels open, which increases the quantity of light coming into the building.

Recently the Midwest Offices of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) became the first project in Chicago to attain Living Building Challenge Petal Certification.

See all 14 entries on Living Building Challenge Collaborative: Chicago’s website.

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