Archive for November 7th, 2010

November 7, 2010

Innovation Conference, Part III

THURSDAY, November 4, 2010 | BY

Integration + Inspiration + Intelligence = Innovation

The final presentation of the McGraw Hill Innovation Conference highlighted the new Manitoba Hydro Headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Bruce Kuwabara of KPMB Architects and Thomas Auer of Transsolar Climate Engineers guided the audience through the project’s development and demonstrated the fundamental importance of integration in realizing sustainable innovation.

Thomas Auer raised the issue of how green buildings are architecturally expressed. He likened the current state of popular green building language to a Hummer with solar panels and wind turbine on the roof, and the requisite bike rack attached to the rear. This raises an important question that sustainable designers have been struggling with for some time: how should a green building express its greenness?

Diagram of Manitoba Hydro Headquarters by KPMB Architects and Transsolar


In an era when sustainability both drives and is driven by marketing, the obvious answer would be “as evidently as possible.” But for this para-public project, seemingly less influenced by market forces, the unequivocal response by the architect and engineer was “not unless it makes sense.” Much as the Modernists rejected applied ornament, Kuwabara and Auer cast off green “bling” in favor of intelligent integrated design, where extensive environmental analysis informs proposed design solutions.

Designing in a climate like Winnipeg’s is no small feat. The weather ranges from -35 C in the winter to +35 C in the summer. Humid and mosquito-ridden summers clash with winters that bring harsh cold winds. The one positive aspect is that Winnipeg, Auer noted, is the sunniest northern city, particularly on cold winter days.

Kuwabara explained the organizational context of the project, including the dedication of all parties to engage in an integrated design process. First, the client committed to relocating multiple suburban offices to a centralized urban location in downtown Winnipeg, reflecting a shift of values towards urban revitalization and public transportation. Then, the team established its main goals in a Project Charter.


KPMB Architects and Transsolar’s facade system for Manitoba Hydro Headquarters


Site and program met climate and culture to inform and inspire the process. What emerged is an office building that incorporates intelligent and responsive passive design solutions coupled with select energy technologies. Taking advantage of the sun and wind, the designers oriented the A-shaped building’s narrow floor plates to rely on solar and daylight harvesting. Operable double wall technology allows 100% fresh air, preconditioned by south-facing winter gardens. A solar chimney exhausts or recovers heat, and geothermal wells provide radiant heating and cooling. A water feature in the atrium made from Mylar ribbons, the most unique element, humidifies winter air and dehumidifies moist summer air.

For such an extreme climate, the results are remarkable: a 65% energy reduction in performance compared to the Canadian Energy Code.

Following the lecture, two questions remained unresolved. Why, in a climate with abundant sun and low solar angles, were no Building Integrated Photovoltaics used? And why, at the windiest intersection in the windiest city in Canada, were there no wind turbines? For a power company headquarters, incorporating these technologies would make sense. Auer responded that the team undertook the analysis, but the energy output and payback was insufficient to make it worthwhile.

I gathered from the presentation that there is no prescriptive manner in which a building should express its sustainability. In some instances it may be overt, in others more subtle and perhaps not even visual, such as simply providing high quality air. It is important that to be truly sustainable, the building reveals the thought and analysis invested in responding to its climate, context, and occupants, and that ultimately – it is acting in symbiosis with them.

November 7, 2010

Innovation Conference, Part II

TUESDAY, November 2, 2010 | BY
I recently attended the 2010 Architectural Record/Green Source Innovation Conference, and while all of the programs looked promising, I focused on one in particular – “The Making of a New Green City:  New Songdo City, South Korea.” Overall, the program was well-presented, informative, and touched upon many of the sustainability issues that challenge architects each day, and that we work to solve.
Green Master Planning in the 21st Century – KPF’s New Songdo City, Korea 

James von Klemperer, FAIA, Design Principal at Kohn Pederson Fox Associates (KPF) gave an excellent overview of KPF’s efforts over the past nine years in master planning and designing buildings for New Songdo City, Korea.  A completely new satellite city on the edge of Seoul, New Songdo City was initiated to help Korea remain competitive with its Asian neighbors in finance and business. Built on 1,200 acres of landfill, New Songdo City was, and is, an opportunity to design a city with the latest advances in integrated and sustainable infrastructure, land planning, and architecture. Klemperer compared the new city to previous Korean master planning attempts, which were based on earlier modernist ideals of “towers in the park” and separation of uses. New Songdo City seems much more sophisticated than these previous new city designs, with all components carefully considered to promote mixed uses, variety in urban scale and experience, and integration into the existing urban landscape.  All parts of the master plan, Klemperer stated, must produce a synergy to benefit the project’s equally important social, sustainable, and economic success.

Keeping with the conference’s Green Innovation theme, much of the presentation concentrated on the sustainability issues involved in designing a city from scratch. Klemperer noted that New Songdo City, one of only three Asian new cities accepted as a LEED-ND pilot project, includes the first LEED Certified convention center in Asia and such components as bike paths, a walkable scale, parks that filter and reuse rain water, and district scale hot water for heating and cooling, gray water filtration, and automated waste management.

It is amazing that New Songdo City is already one third complete with business and residential towers, mixed-use low-rise, schools, parks, and civic buildings that are inhabited. KPF’s New Songdo City’s master plan seems to avoid or solve many of the shortcomings of 20th century new city master plans: repetitive and anonymous building blocks, strict separation of uses, unsophisticated urban spaces that ignore human scale, disregard for pedestrian and public transportation, and no integration of sustainability measures. Many Asian and Middle East nations prefer this newer type of master planned city solution in order to develop and advance. It is important that the international architectural and planning community monitor how KPF’s Green Innovations at New Songdo City’s succeed, and how they can be applied to other similar developments.

New Songdo City may address questions raised by this type of development. Is constructing a completely new city more sustainable than developing within an existing urban setting?  Can a new city designed and constructed within a matter of years maintain a sense of place (that usually only comes with layers of history and culture) and avoid looking dated or frozen in time?  Time will tell as the New Songdo City master plan construction is completed and then evolves.

November 7, 2010

Innovation Conference, Day 1

THURSDAY, October 14, 2010 | BY
Last week I attended the first four hours that comprised Day 1 of the 2010 Architectural Record / Green Source Innovation Conference held at the McGraw-Hill Headquarters in midtown Manhattan. Starting off Day 1 was the conference welcoming address which included an announcement that keynote speaker David Owen would be rescheduled to the start of Day 2. As this marked the second time in the last year that I missed hearing David discuss his 2009 book, Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less are the Keys to Sustainability, I sense that it might be time to actually read his book. With the other scheduled speakers in the audience, the program quickly proceeded with a presentation titled “Decarbonization of Central Cities: Chicago, Illinois” by Robert Forest of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture and Roger Frechette of Positive Energy Practice. The presentation aptly addressed the conference themes:  innovationbig,super-greenbuildings, and cityscapes. The main premise of their talk is that improvements to the energy performance of cities are best achieved through an urban-scale analysis. Their premise is built upon achievements in the design of individual high-performance new buildings (example, Masdar HQ), greening of existing large buildings (example, Willis Tower), and the symbiotic relationship between buildings of different uses (example, Willis Tower and adjacent new hotel).
View of Chicago Loop parametric model

To assist in their urban analysis for the City of Chicago, a parametric model was developed that covered an approximately one square mile portion of the Chicago Loop. They described their parametric model as “BIM for cities” where each building contains data on its carbon use, energy use, electrical use, parking, age, gross square feet, and use. The parametric model is then used as a tool to both increase density while creating mix-use neighborhoods and reduce carbon use to meet Chicago’s Climate Action Plan and 2030 Challenge goals. The impact of proposed changes to an existing building or the addition of a new building within the study area can be easily compared to the base-line figures of the entire study area. As the existing buildings in the Loop study area account for 10% of Chicago’s carbon use but only 1% of the city land area there are significant potential reductions to be achieved. By increasing the density of the study area through the addition of mixed-use development, the analysis demonstrated an overall reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of 3.90 metric tons to 0.78 metric tons within the study area, an 80% reduction.

Chart of step-by-step Chicago Loop carbon reduction

Not to be lost in the statistics is the goal to transform a large area of Chicago into several seamless live-work neighborhoods with all supporting services within short walking distances. With further development of the parametric model, it is believed that it will be used in the future to analyze other cities and help guide successful efforts to reduce carbon use in urban areas. With the plan for decarbonization of the Chicago Loop complete, it will be interesting to see if the use of urban-scale analysis is a factor in the realization of the City of Chicago’s carbon reduction goals.

2010 Architectural Record / Green Source Innovation Conference
Big and Super-Green:  From Buildings to Cityscapes
October 6 – 7, 2010
McGraw-Hill Auditorium
The McGraw-Hill Companies Corporate Headquarters
1221 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY

November 7, 2010

Innovation 2010 Big and Super-Green: From Buildings to Cityscapes

Join us for Architectural Record and GreenSource’s eighth annual Innovation Conference taking place October 6-7, 2010 at the McGraw-Hill Companies Headquarters in New York City.

The 2010 Architectural Record/GreenSource Innovation Conference will focus on technical developments and strategies, from large-scale super-green buildings on up to the super-green cities that support them.

The first 50 people to register for the event will receive a copy complimentary!

David Owen
The New Yorker

Green Metropolis by David Owen

Keynote Address: Green Metropolis

Most Americans think of crowded cites as ecological nightmares, as wastelands of concrete and garbage, and diesel fumes and traffic jams. But life in the suburbs and rural areas are not the green panacea many people think they are. Keynote speaker David Owen will show us why the residents of compact urban centers individually consume less oil, electricity and water, discard less trash and most importantly, spend less time in cars than other Americans. And, he’ll explore the reasons that Manhattan may be the most ecologically friendly city in the country.

Stefan Behnisch, Special Guest Lecturer:
Content Driven Approaches to an Innovative Architecture

Stefan Behnisch’s first building abroad, the Institute for Forestry and Nature Research in Wageningen, The Netherlands (1998), an EU pilot project for sustainable architecture, paved the way for the success of his practice in the field of ecologically responsible architecture. Other milestones were the Genzyme Center in Cambridge, MA, a LEED Platinum rated company headquarter building, and the recently completed award-winning Unilever headquarter building in Hamburg’s HafenCity. His portfolio also comprises residential projects, museums, schools, university buildings and sports facilities. Stefan Behnisch will present the firm’s objectives – to create aesthetically pleasing, robust and lasting environments where the building’s occupants feel well. In all his projects he strives to develop an ecologically sound architecture, optimizing the use of available resources, while reducing the reliance upon technical means.

Stefan Behnisch


Case Study: Manitoba Hydro Place, Winnipeg, Canada
Manitoba Hydro Place is one of North America’s most sophisticated large-scale, energy-efficient buildings. Despite being in an extremely challenging climate, it is predicted that it will use 65 percent less energy than a comparable mid-rise office building. Bruce Kuwabara of Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects of Toronto, Canada, and Thomas Auer of Transsolar KlimaEngineering, Stuttgart, Germany, will present this fascinating case study.


Bionics as a Tool for Innovation in Architecture & Megacities: The Case of Be-Bionic City Tower

The Case of Be-Bionic City TowerThe Be-Bionic City Tower is the first model for a vertical city. It is also the first-high rise structure able to reach 1,228 meters in elevation, and the first vertical construction able to be fully self-sustainable. It is able to create its own energy using natural resources as the sun’s radiation, wind, and rain. Preliminary investigations on this biological vertical complex were done at Columbia University in New York in 1984 and 1985, and first prototypes of Be-Bionic City Tower were created in over the next 20 years. Now, after two and half decades of research into mega-cities urban planning and bionics, an avant-garde generation of the BBCT will be presented.

Burj Khalifa: A New Paradigm

Burj Khalifa: A New ParadigmBurj Khalifa, designed and engineered by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, is one for the record books. At 2,717 feet (828 meters), Burj Khalifa shatters all previous height records and now holds the title of world’s tallest manmade structure. From the project’s initial concept design through construction, the combination of several important technological innovations results in a building of unprecedented height. Bill Baker, lead structural engineer, will discuss how the team’s unique approach toward managing the forces of nature and employing a design process based on experimentation resulted in the creation of an entirely new structural system.