Last winter, KieranTimberlake team members installed 150 temperature sensors at Richardson Memorial Hall, Tulane University’s School of Architecture. Over the summer, the sensor platform was reactivated and augmented with the addition of relative humidity sensors. We initiated the summer monitoring to answer two primary questions: How comfortable is a historic building on Tulane’s campus in the thick of the summer cooling season? And, can monitoring be used to reveal deficiencies in the existing envelope and HVAC system?
The summer monitoring results were quite striking when contrasted to the winter results. During the winter, significant temperature stratification and asymmetries in mean radiant temperature (MRT) were found within the building, while in the summer, data pointed to conditions that were both comfortable and consistent.
Architect magazine recently featured KieranTimberlake in an article about the fusion of design and research at select top firms—including the embedding of new specialized roles like computational designers and materials and sustainability experts among designers. KieranTimberlake, Perkins+Will, and The Living are three firms profiled for integrating research into design processes and services. The author spoke with Billie Faircloth about KieranTimberlake's research ethic, which she says is "intrinsic to what we do."
Three Top Firms That are Pursuing Design Research
Perkins+Will, The Living, and KieranTimberlake are among a new class of architectural practices investing in research. By Daniel Davis
In architecture, it can be difficult to determine where research ends and practice begins. In sectors such as medicine and aerospace, research is distinct from the rest of the business. But architectural research tends to mix with practice. Some argue that design and research are intertwined—that architects are conducting research as their design process leads them to better understand the site and other peculiarities of the project. In this guise, all design is a form of research.
While design may be considered as a form of research, not all research is a form of design. Ajla Aksamija, leader of Perkins+Will’s Tech Lab and co-organizer for this year’s Architectural Research Centers Consortium, says that differentiating between actual research and mere marketing is essential. Firms may claim to do research as part of their design initiatives, but historically, few firms have actually invested in research.
The Quaker Meeting House and Arts Center at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC, has been rated LEED® Platinum—the highest level of environmental certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The building represents a maximum reuse of existing resources, transforming a large former gymnasium built in the 1950s into a space of filtered light and silent contemplation. As a retrofit, it does not add additional embodied energy nor create a greater footprint that would impact stormwater flows. The project also makes use of reclaimed materials wherever possible. To eliminate the need for harvesting standing timber, the oak flooring and paneling of the meeting room were made from reclaimed wood sourced from barns in West Virginia and Maryland. New pervious paving in the front courtyard makes use of concrete removed during the renovation to create a porous infill that minimizes stormwater runoff, which causes flooding, erosion, and pollution of local waterways.
The existing envelope was heavily modified to increase insulation, achieve greater protection from solar radiation, and improve daylighting. To address energy conservation, the project makes use of the heating and cooling capacity from a central plant in an adjacent building, capitalizing on the efficiencies of scale afforded by the large system. The HVAC system employs a mixture of passive and active low-energy responses according to changes in air flow, temperature, and occupancy.
The energy profile is further complemented by an onsite photovoltaic array that provides nearly half the building’s energy. A favorite sustainable feature of the design team, the photovoltaic roof with two skylights allows the same sunlight falling upon the roof to be both performative and contemplative—both real electricity to power the building and a source of wonder to power the mind and soul.
KieranTimberlake is delighted to announce the elevation of five new partners at the firm. We celebrate this pivotal moment in our design practice, which has steadily grown to nearly 100 people over the thirty years since our founding in 1984. The new partners—Billie Faircloth, Matthew Krissel, Richard Maimon, David Mark Riz, and Jason E. Smith—have collectively realized dozens of award-winning projects across the country and around the world.
Founding partners Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake are excited about continuing to develop the firm’s design and research efforts with the contributions and guidance of these new partners, each of whom brings unique perspective and experience to help grow, evolve, and move the practice forward.
"These five talented individuals who span three generations have been so instrumental to the ongoing development of the firm," remarks James Timberlake. "They bring truly exciting possibilities to broadening and expanding our thinking about design, research, and the advancement of architecture."
Stephen Kieran comments, "The new partners have demonstrated their capacity to extend our firm and its culture of innovation into an ever-growing realm of inquiry and influence. They are leaders that are committed to asking and resolving the hard questions that move architecture forward."
Our Philadelphia-based firm of nearly 100 professionals is growing. We are currently seeking qualified candidates for a diversity of roles, including Architect, Digital Resources Librarian, Environmental Researcher, and Building Performance Specialist. Please see our Employment page for more information about these positions and details on submitting your application.
As a firm, we strive to create an atmosphere of highly imaginative problem solving and idea generation within a collaborative, open office environment in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia. Learn more about KieranTimberlake.
In 2013, Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission announced the closure of 23 public schools. As part of an initiative to offer community-focused pro bono architectural services, KieranTimberlake worked with the Community Design Collaborative, a local nonprofit, to address the pressing issue of these newly vacant school buildings in the City of Philadelphia. In an intensive full-day design charrette during the November Design on the Delaware conference, the KieranTimberlake team worked with community members, private and nonprofit developers, city agencies, and local designers to propose both short- and long-term solutions for two of Philadelphia’s closed schools.
The overarching purpose of the charrette was to answer the question: How can we create feasible, community-oriented reuse proposals to encourage the redevelopment of buildings that currently have no interested buyers?
We are delighted to announce that the Brockman Hall for Physics at Rice University has won an Institute Honor Award for 2015 from the American Institute of Architects. The award is the design profession's highest recognition of excellence, and this year, 23 recipients were selected from a pool of 500 submissions from across the globe.
Project Description from Architect Magazine
According to [James] Timberlake, Brockman Hall represents “one of the more perfect examples” of his firm’s holistic strategy of design. KieranTimberlake “seemed to find inspiration in the overwhelming technical constraints and resonance in the building’s important research mission,” Rice’s [Barbara] Bryson says, noting that other firms might have been daunted by the building’s litany of programmatic demands. “The result is a building that works brilliantly while providing an … elegant home for some of the best physicists in the world.”
KieranTimberlake is proud to announce two new book publications to be released in spring 2015.
Alluvium: Dhaka, Bangladesh, in the Crossroads of Water
Extracts from Seven Years of the Dhaka Design-Research Lab at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake Published by ORO Editions
Imagine the most extreme urban environment on earth—a place three times as dense as Manhattan, enveloped in a constant flow of water, beset by a relentless stream of rural migrants, plagued by annual monsoons, and threatened by climate change. Since 2007, architects Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake have directed a design-research laboratory on Dhaka, capital city of Bangladesh, for graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. What began as a desire to help a city in need became an immersion in investigating its ebbs and flows, mapping its urban systems, and charting its development via annual visits. The result of this extended study is Alluvium: Dhaka, Bangladesh, in the Crossroads of Water, a cross-genre book that incorporates first-person narrative, documentary photography, and research-based infographics and maps to encourage new readings and perspectives.
The team recently received a National Institute of Building Sciences Member Award for its support of the STEM Initiative for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. The awards ceremony will take place during the Building Innovation 2015 conference in Washington, DC, this week.
The BIM model is a key aspect of the Mars City Operations Challenge, which teaches high school and community college students to act as facility managers responsible for maintaining the virtual base. The Challenge will launch at schools nationwide in fall of 2015.