March 19, 2014

Toward a More Energy-Efficient Future

The steel structure of the new Center for Building Energy Education and Innovation was completed last week at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The rendering below shows the building's finished form.

The Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) at Philadelphia’s Navy Yard is a research initiative funded by the Department of Energy and led by Penn State University that seeks to reduce the energy usage of commercial buildings 20% by 2020. We are currently undertaking the retrofitting of a 1940s recreational facility for the EEB Hub’s headquarters, along with the construction of a new classroom building across the street. Both projects aim to be completed by mid-summer of 2014. 
Over the past month, structural steel was erected for the classroom building, known as the Center for Building Energy Education and Innovation, revealing the form the eventual building will take. In keeping with the industrial character of the Navy Yard, the structural steel is left exposed in many of the building’s public spaces, making the erection of the steel a critical milestone for the project. Now that the steel is in place, a second floor concrete slab can be poured and work on the exterior façade can begin. 

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March 17, 2014

Recycling Construction Waste

A shredder hopper is loaded at Richard S. Burns & Company Inc. Our visit to this local facility allowed us to capture a series of images of waste recycling and recovery processes.

An important aspect of environmental sustainability is the careful management of construction waste through recycling or landfill diversion. Normally, the contractor specifies a waste management company responsible for dumpsters on site, transportation, sorting, processing, landfill diversion, and accounting. In order to ensure that design and construction methods efficiently integrate with the processing of construction waste, KieranTimberlake recently made a visit to a local waste recycling and recovery facility. 
Richard S. Burns & Company Inc. is a family-owned business that has been in operation for over 40 years. The company pioneered landfill diversion techniques long before the practice was commonplace because of its ability to monetize the recycling streams. It operates a 10-acre facility in North Philadelphia and employs many individuals in the surrounding community.  
Our visit helped us understand what happens once waste leaves the construction site and allowed us to see first-hand how it is repurposed into a variety of recycling streams, often achieving a landfill diversion rate of 99%.

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March 06, 2014

Press Release: KieranTimberlake and PE INTERNATIONAL Announce the Availability of Tally™: an Autodesk® Revit® Application for Life Cycle Assessment in Building Design

New application helps achieve LEED® v4 Materials and Resources credit, MRc1

KieranTimberlake, in conjunction with PE INTERNATIONAL and Autodesk® Sustainability Solutions announce the commercial availability of Tally™, a software application for Revit® that calculates the environmental impact of building materials. It is the only application to be fully integrated into Revit, providing architects, engineers, and building professionals with insight into how materials-related decisions made during design influence a building’s overall ecological footprint. Backed by the rigor and credibility of GaBi data from PE INTERNATIONAL, the application enables Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) on demand, documenting information across eight life cycle impact categories that align with LEED® v4 and other rating systems. 
The commercial release follows a three-month public beta, in which nearly 500 users tested Tally and provided feedback on a broad range of design scenarios. The application is already garnering an enthusiastic response for its simplicity and ease of use.

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February 17, 2014

Rodeph Shalom Expands for the Future

A view from Broad Street shows the future addition on the building's south side. It includes a community room at the corner of Broad and Green Streets that is clad in eighteen-foot translucent channel glass.
© KieranTimberlake/Studio amd

On December 8, Philadelphia’s Congregation Rodeph Shalom broke ground on a significant new addition and renovation to its historic home. Founded in 1795, Rodeph Shalom is the oldest Ashkenazic congregation in the Western Hemisphere. Its current synagogue building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was designed by Philadelphia architecture firm Simon & Simon and completed in 1928. It is an outstanding example of Byzantine revival and art deco architecture, featuring a limestone-clad exterior and a lavish interior with elaborate marble flooring, entryway mosaics, and hand-painted decorative stenciling.

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February 14, 2014

A Study in Transparency

A custom device for studying glass details in their appropriate lighting context was developed in our Philadelphia shop.

When evaluating glass, the human eye cannot always be trusted. Our perception of transparency is influenced as much by the context under which materials are viewed as by their intrinsic optical qualities. When we study a glass sample under interior lighting conditions where light levels on either side of the glass are nearly equal, we may get the false impression that the sample will appear equally transparent when applied to a building facade. In fact, the ratio of reflected daylight to transmitted interior light can make even the most transparent glass appear mirror-like when it is viewed from the exterior.  

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February 07, 2014

Steel Rises at Dilworth Plaza

Shop fabrication of the steel pieces for the new cafe allowed the structure to be completed in just two nights. The surface finish applied during fabrication gives the steel its white appearance.

Last week, while the city slept, the first above-ground structure emerged at Dilworth Plaza with the installation of steel columns and edge beams that will form the new cafe and stair headhouse on the northern end of the plaza. Until now, work has been concentrated below ground in the new transit concourse and on the plaza level, largely out of view of passersby. But on Wednesday evening, January 29, after most of the traffic had dissipated at Philadelphia's City Hall, a 300-ton crane and several trucks bearing shop-fabricated steel pieces arrived to begin the installation.

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January 29, 2014

Investigating Low-E Coating Technology for Glass

This diagram shows the general structure of a triple silver low-e coating with approximate thicknesses of each layer, as indicated by various patents.

Modern buildings are often clad in multi-layer insulated glass units (IGU) to enhance views and daylight. Since glass facades are often the most prominent part of a building, the optical qualities of the glass and its coatings impart a defining aesthetic. Most glass aesthetics are largely defined by the low-emissivity (or low-e) coatings that are applied to the glass. These coatings prevent solar radiation from passing through the front of the glass and radiant heat from escaping the building by reflecting it on the back side of the glass. Low-e coatings often give glass facades an undesirable mirror-like appearance; however, they are necessary since glass is a poor insulator. Therefore, the need for thermal performance and the desire for a non-reflective aesthetic are in direct conflict with one another.

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January 27, 2014

Model T as Metaphor

Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake inside Cellophane House © Peter Aaron/OTTO

Toronto's The Globe and Mail interviewed Partner Stephen Kieran recently about KieranTimberlake's quest to transform architecture via off-site fabrication. He and Partner James Timberlake envision factory-building complex, custom modules, then shipping them to site for assembly—similar to the process used to manufacture a car. Two prototypes—Loblolly House and Cellophane House—have already been successfully constructed, and an environmentally friendly concept house for India is currently in development.  
Kieran compared the process to the evolution of the early automobile: “Henry Ford transformed the economics of a whole industry...With a $400 car, you were into a whole new model to change the world. But it took him a lot of prototypes. The Model T is called that because it’s the 19th letter in the alphabet, and he had 18 failures.” This evening, January 27, Kieran will deliver the keynote lecture for the ar.chi.tect* symposium (titled "Redefining the Profession") at Toronto's Ryerson University. He will also participate in the symposium tomorrow, January 28, at the Design Exchange in Toronto.

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January 21, 2014

Monitoring for Better Design at Tulane

We installed sensors within the walls of Tulane's Richardson Memorial Hall to measure temperature stratification in space. Ambient temperature measurements will provide designers with data to inform systems design.

For a renovation project at Tulane University's School of Architecture, KieranTimberlake recently installed temperature sensors at more than 150 points within the building. This monitoring exercise will allow us to gain a nuanced understanding of the building's thermal performance within the predominantly hot, humid climate of New Orleans. Measurements will be used to analyze how temperatures vary within the building, which will inform the design of new passive and active heating and cooling systems. The goal is to the generate a design that responds to the unique thermal context of the building, creating the most comfortable environment possible while using the least amount of energy.  
The design team devised a package of temperature monitoring equipment for deployment at several locations on the third and fourth floors of Richardson Memorial Hall, home to the architecture school. The third and fourth floors contain studio spaces in the north and south wings of the building. On the fourth floor, the ceilings are double-height, with a pitched roof rising more than 30 feet. Nearly all of the windows in the building are uninsulated. The sensor deployment is focused on creating rich data sets for ambient temperature distribution as well as thermal stratification (change in temperature from one zone to another) within the building. This is coupled with envelope monitoring on both the interior and exterior walls.

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January 13, 2014

Quaker Meeting House Wins AIA Honor Award

The Quaker Meeting House at Sidwell Friends School transforms an aging gymnasium into a carefully tuned space for worship and contemplation. More images are available here.
© Michael Moran/OTTO

We are pleased to announce that the Quaker Meeting House and Arts Center at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC, has won an Institute Honor Award for 2014 from the American Institute of Architects. The 26 winning projects were selected from more than 500 submissions. 

Project description from the AIA press release

With a minimum of means, this project transforms a non-descript 1950s gymnasium into a Quaker Meeting House and Arts Center serving the entire middle and upper school community at Sidwell Friends School. The building program includes a worship space, visual art and music rooms, and exhibition areas. The essence of Quaker Meeting, and thus the Meeting House itself, is silence and light. Architecturally this is achieved by filtering light and sound through architecture, landscape, structure, and systems arranged in successive concentric layers around a central source of illumination, both literal and spiritual.

Jury comments

A beautiful project that is very well detailed and imagined. A remarkable transformation. 
The obsolete building is thankfully lost in the new one; the new one is open, bright, and engaging. 
The exterior is masterfully handled with subtle gestures that give it interest and shape. The architect manages to create a landmark building on the site while simultaneously transforming the interior spaces into an effective worship space. 
Fascinating use of light and molding of space. Beautiful reinterpretation with a sensitive vernacular touch. 
Great sustainability strategies and results.

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