The high desert town of Lancaster, California, population 156,000, has set its sights on becoming, in the words of its mayor R. Rex Parris ”the solar capital of the world.” That means producing more electricity from solar energy than it consumes, which it would have to achieve by covering roofs, fields, and parking lots with enough solar panels to generate more than 200 megawatts citywide. The city, located about two hours north of Los Angeles in the Antelope Valley, already has about 40 megawatts built and 50 megawatts under construction, according to the New York Times; a combination of private investment and construction from the municipal utility.
Lancaster could prove to be a good case study: getting a solar permit in the sun soaked town is already much easier than anywhere in California—the number of residential solar installations have tripled in the last 18 months—and Parris is touting the initiative as an effective way to add jobs to the struggling area.
At a DeLab (Design East of La Brea) Tour this Saturday, Los Angeles-based firm Lettuce Office shared the epic story of its new solar array for LA’s Occidental College. The 1 megawatt installation, made up of 4,886-panels, follows the contours of its hilly site, with its angled panels raised just two or three feet off the ground. To guard against sliding, each set of panels had to be imbedded into the earth via concrete-supported columns.
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Research into flexible active skins opens up new BIPV possibilities
As building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) technology becomes more advanced, architects are getting involved in how new systems affect not only a building’s performance, but also its appearance. “The photovoltaic industry was until now largely developed by engineers,” said Daniel Martín Ferrero, a Madrid-based architect researching solar design. “The architect must enter the industry to develop their integration into the urban scene.” Ferrero has launched a new company named The New Solar Architecture with a goal of bringing a higher level of design to solar energy-producing facades.
[ Updated 02.08.2011: Added the interview video, a gallery of Scarpa's 502 Colorado project, and more. ]
You know you’ve hit the big time when you’re not only invited to appear on Oprah, but you’re interviewed by Leonard DiCaprio on Oprah. Such is the case with Larry Scarpa, of Santa Monica firm Brooks + Scarpa, who talked to Leo about his former firm Pugh + Scarpa’s 502 Colorado in Santa Monica, which DiCaprio calls the “first green affordable housing project in the country.”
Winded. Popular Science has the story of a bridge concept in Italy called Solar Wind featuring an array of wind turbines capable of generating 40 million kilowatt hours annually. If that weren’t enough, the proposal also incorporates a solar roadway for an added green boost.
Juiced. The Times of Trenton reports that Princeton University is converting 27 acres in West Windsor, New Jersey into a field 16,500 photovoltaic panels able to generate 8 million kilo-watt hours of clean, green energy every year. The project will begin in 2012 and is expected to generate 5.5% of electricity for the university.
Stripped. Citiwire considers the downfall of the suburban commercial strip and it doesn’t look good for sprawl. As shopping trends evolve and consumer taste retreats from the generic strip landscape, hybrid shopping centers resembling main streets could be the future.
TOD or not TOD. Residents of an award-winning transit-oriented development in Maryland featuring a wide median where a light rail line was planned have turned their backs to their neighborhoods original lofty goals. StreetsBlog sums up the latest high-profile case of NIMBY-ism.
Solar Cycle. The Dutch dream up a ways to capture latent energy beneath bike tires.
Go East Young Man. With the economy in the States still somewhat sour, the good news for West Coast firms is in the East, the Far East, writes AOL’s Daily Finance. AIA’s Scott Frank spills the goods for Danny King.
Walled Out. It was hard to miss the spirited crowd on Chambers Street yesterday as three City Council committees held a joint hearing on Wal-Mart’s proposed move into New York held. Wal-Mart was a no show. The line to get in stretched down the block. And Council Speaker Quinn blasted away. Today’s Daily News editorial found the whole drama, well, dramatic.
Polar Opposites. Ben Thompson and Paul Rudolph were cut from the same Modernist cloth, under the influence of Gropius, but the two took different paths. One was from the north the other from the south, one standoffish, the other a team player. One a sculpture, the other an entertainer. In Architecture Boston, David N. Fixler explores how their forms function.
Since opening in 2008, The Green Building in Louisville, Kentucky has been quietly awaiting the verdict on just how sustainable the three-story adaptive reuse project really is. As expected, the 115-year-old former dry goods store designed by California-based (fer) studio announced that the project received LEED Platinum certification, becoming the city’s first Platinum building.
So we’ve got schools with green roofs sprouting in D.C., Manhattan, the Bronx, and who knows where else across this fine country of ours. (If you’ve got more, email us, we’d love to hear about them.) Not content simply with the mantle of “country’s oldest public school,” Boston Latin has decided to add a green roof as well. Designed by Studio G Architects, this one’s a whopper, covering 50,000 square feet with areas dedicated to growing crops for the cafeteria and providing lab space for science classes. At that size, maybe they could even find some room up there for some mini golf or a tennis court. More renderings and details after the jump. Read More