Sustainability Expert Juan Betancur Talks Integrated Facades

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture's Federation of Korean Industries office tower. (©Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture/Namgoong Sun)

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture’s Federation of Korean Industries office tower. (©Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture/Namgoong Sun)

In a high-performance building, argues Juan Betancur, director at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the envelope must never be an afterthought. Rather, it should be a material expression of the overall environmental strategy. “The key to what we’re doing with energy and sustainability is: how do the systems become the facades themselves?” he said. “If we make it part of the building, it’s an integrated systems solution.” Read More

Packard Foundation Goes Green With EHDD

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EHDD designed the David and Lucile Packard Foundation headquarters as a model of cutting-edge green building techniques. (Jeremy Bittermann)

EHDD designed the David and Lucile Packard Foundation headquarters as a model of cutting-edge green building techniques. (Jeremy Bittermann)

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.” Read More

Green Skyscraper Concept Grows Over Time Using Tenants’ Recycled Waste

Recycled Skyscraper London (Courtesy Chartier-Corbasson)

Recycled Skyscraper London (Courtesy Chartier-Corbasson)

French architecture firm Chartier-Corbasson has hopped on the green-building train with their recently unveiled green skyscraper concept. Renderings of the Organic London Skyscraper show a towering, pyramid-shaped building comprised of panels made from recycled plastic material. But this tower takes a radical twist—it would be built from the trash of its inhabitants and grow over time.

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Dutch Architects Propose Floating Island Made of Recycled Plastic

Recycled Island (Courtesy Design Villa)

Recycled Island (Courtesy Design Villa)

Considering how much trash Baltimore’s solar-powered Trash Interceptor scoops out of the city’s harbor—50,000 pounds a day!—these floating islands made from found plastic waste might just stand a chance. With the support of the Creative Industries Firm NL, WHIM Architecture is developing a prototype of their project, the recycled island, built primarily from recycled plastic waste gathered from the North Pacific gyre and the North Sea.

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Architect proposes a pedestrian bridge in Israel built from discarded shipping containers

3-ecocontainer-bridge-arielsharonpark-yoavmesserachitects-iftahhayner-hagaradmin-archpaper

(Yoav Messer Architects)

There is an ongoing architectural quest to find new and innovative sustainable materials. Some products could appear in the next science fiction film, such as the fungus-grown packaging material by Ecovative. Other materials have been with us for a long time, under guise of other uses. Some products—like the lowly shipping container—have served one function for so long they beg to be reinvented.

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On View> Designing for Disaster at the National Building Museum

Elevate

An elevated model home in Biloxi, Mississippi, designed by architect Marlon Blackwell in 2009 as part of an Architecture for Humanity Initiative, incorporates resilient and affordable design with porch living—an important part of local culture. (Timothy Hursley)

Designing for Disaster
National Building Museum
401 F Street NW, Washington, D.C.
Through August 2, 2015

The National Building Museum’s newest exhibition, Designing for Disaster, will explore how communities assess risks from natural hazards and how we can create policies, plans, and designs that create safer, more disaster-resilient communities. The two central questions that the exhibit addresses are where and how we should build.

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Facade Expert Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido on the Perils of Homogenous Design

Leatop Plaza in Guangzhou, China. (Courtesy JAHN)

Leatop Plaza in Guangzhou, China. (Courtesy JAHN)

According to Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido, president of Chicago-based JAHN, contemporary facade design neglects one of the building envelope’s foremost responsibilities: storytelling. “There is a focus now on using the building massing to convey the key message,” he said. “However, I think it’s through the facade that we can bring a more compelling narrative about how the building functions.” As an example, Gonzalez-Pulido pointed to Mies van der Rohe’s One IBM Plaza, which he can see from his office. “When you look at the mechanical floors, they’re treated differently,” he said. “In the lobby, the glass is different. This is actually the responsibility of the facade—it’s more than a piece of glass and metal to cover the building.” Read More

Alexander Gorlin Wraps Supportive Housing in a Binary Skin

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Located in the Bronx, The Brook provides housing and support services for the formerly homeless and individuals living with HIV/AIDS. (Courtesy Alexander Gorlin Architects)

Located in the Bronx, The Brook provides housing and support services for the formerly homeless and individuals living with HIV/AIDS. (Courtesy Alexander Gorlin Architects)

An aluminum rain screen and locally-sourced brick articulate a two-part program.

The Brook, developed by Common Ground and designed by Alexander Gorlin Architects, is part of a new wave of affordable housing communities popping up all over the United States. Unlike the public housing projects of the mid-twentieth century, which focused exclusively on housing and tended to suffer from a lack of routine maintenance, The Brook, located in the Bronx, combines apartments and support services under one roof. This duality is manifested in the envelope’s contrasting material palette—dark grey brick for the residential spaces, raw aluminum over the community facilities. “The idea of the exterior was to symbolize, as well as reflect, the internal program of Common Ground as supportive housing,” said Alexander Gorlin. “It’s inspired in part by Le Corbusier and his idea of expressing the program on the facade, and expressing the public functions as a means of interrupting a repetitive facade.” Read More

Amtrak to Launch Bike Storage Cars on Long-Distance Trains

The new bike racks. (Courtesy Amtrak)

The new bike racks. (Courtesy Amtrak)

Among the appeals of train travel is the ability to move between urban city centers easily, but until now, bringing your bike along for the ride was a burdensome venture. Well, good news cyclists. Amtrak is making it a whole lot easier to bring your bike aboard its trains. Gone are the days of having to break down your bike, pack it into a box, and stow it with luggage. The train operator is set to launch new storage cars that include bike racks.

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Video Sneak Peek: facades+ Chicago, July 24-25

Like our skin, a building’s facade is a critical intermediary between its interior functions and the outside environment. High-performance envelope design thus incorporates a variety of concerns, from aesthetics to sustainability. Next month, leading AEC industry professionals will gather in the Windy City for facades+ Chicago to discuss the future of facade design through the lens of the conference theme: resilience. For more information or to register, visit the facades+ Chicago website.

Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation to build sustainable homes for Native Americans

GRAFT-home-design (Courtesy GRAFT)

GRAFT-home-design (Courtesy GRAFT)

Brad Pitt’s home-building operation, Make It Right, was initially established in 2007 to rebuild homes in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina. The non-profit has built dozens of starchitect-designed houses in New Orleans and a subsequent expansion to Kansas City, near where the actor grew up. Now the organization has taken up its latest charitable challenge: the construction of several sustainable housing developments in Fort Peck, Montana for a Native American tribe there.

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James Timberlake to US AEC Industry: Bring Facade Manufacturing Home

KieranTimberlake's Edgar N. Putnam Event Pavilion, James A. Michener Art Museum. (Michael Moran/OTTO)

KieranTimberlake’s Edgar N. Putnam Event Pavilion, James A. Michener Art Museum. (Michael Moran/OTTO)

KieranTimberlake has long pushed the boundaries of conventional facade design. The Philadelphia-based firm started using pressure-equalized rain screen systems in the 1980s, well before other architects brought the technology on board. Their Melvin J. and Claire Levine Hall, at the University of Pennsylvania (2003), was the first actively ventilated curtain wall in North America. The designers at KieranTimberlake have introduced new materials and assemblies, such as the SmartWrap building skin deployed at Cellophane House, part of MoMA’s Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling exhibit. One of the firm’s latest projects, the Embassy of the United States, London, incorporates an outer envelope of three-dimensional ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) panels with integrated photovoltaic cells.

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