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A motorized green wall that reads the weather and adjusts automatically
Two years ago six students and three faculty from Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture + Design spent three weeks at SOM‘s Chicago office applying industrial fabrication solutions to the problem of high density housing for Southworks, a housing development that’s currently being planned for a large vacant section south of the city. The result was LumenHAUS, an aggressively energy efficient home that won the international Solar Decathlon Competition that June for sustainable solutions to high density construction. LumenHAUS is not only net zero, it actually creates more energy than it uses by implementing, among other innovations, a modular system that autonomously responds to external weather information and internal environmental conditions to optimize energy use. This Fall Virginia Tech’s Center for Design Research will begin construction on a full scale prototype of six housing modules, including a working prototype of Hanging Garden, a dynamic plant wall that reads the weather and responds by sliding along the walls and windows to either block or allow sunlight into the living unit.
It wasn’t a usual trip to the World Trade Center site today as AN segued over to the river to get a glimpse of the Space Shuttle Enterprise’s flyover. We caught the shuttle on its second loop at 10:55 on the dot. The pristine prototype shuttle skimmed south over New Jersey on its way round the Statue of Liberty. In all, a very uplifting day when combined with news that the One World Trade will likely surpass the Empire State Building as the city’s tallest building by this Monday. Come summer the shuttle will make a barge trip up the river to its new home at the Intrepid Museum. No news yet on speculation that new building across the street from the museum might house the shuttle.
Norma Merrick Sklarek, the first African American woman to become a licensed architect in the country, died on Monday in Los Angeles, The Los Angeles Times reports. Sklarek, a native of Harlem, went to Barnard College before graduating from Columbia’s architecture school in 1950. She passed the New York State exam in 1954, becoming the first African American woman to receive her professional architecture license and earning her the nickname “the Rosa Parks of Architecture.” She later moved to California where she was turned down for work 19 times before going on to work for SOM, Gruen Associates, Welton Becket, and the Jerde Partnership.
SOM Chicago has won a competition to design a mixed-use tower in the new Chinese city of Suzhou. Located along a lake front, the tower includes a distinctive void carved out the upper portion of the tower, splitting the floorplates in half to better serve hotel uses. Offices will fill the lower, larger floorplates. “We’ve been doing these kinds of mixed-use towers since Hancock,” said Ross Wimer, a partner at SOM Chicago. “Instead of tapering the tower, we’ve carved away a slot to bring fresh air and light into the building.”
SOM returns to LA with a new office to be led by Michael Mann, Paul Danna, and Jose Palacios, all coming en masse from AECOM. The new studio will start out with ten to 40 people in a temporary office, with plans to eventually find a permanent home in downtown LA.
The Boston Society of Architects announced the departure of executive director Margaret Wigglesworth. Wigglesworth, who only assumed the ED role in February 2011 and oversaw BSA’s move to a new home, will be returning to the commercial real estate sector.
In Chicago, Crain‘s reports that FGB, an architecture firm based in Oak Brook, has acquired Deerfield-based SRBL, specialists in schools and institutional work, to create a 95-person strong office.
On January 18, John Hatfield will join Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens as executive director. Hatfield leaves the New Museum of Contemporary Art, where he has served as deputy director since 2008.
Fore Solutions, a green building consulting firm, has joined Thorton Thomasetti to create the Thorton Thomsetti Building Sustainability practice area, to be led by Gunnar Hubbard.