Home > Uncategorized > ok, my daylighting class is over – so one down. sp…

ok, my daylighting class is over – so one down. sp…

ok, my daylighting class is over – so one down. spent most of the night plugging values into a multi-page excel document in order to simulate daylighting conditions achieved through a lightwell in the parking deck of the new Austin City Hall. our class (there are only 4 of us) got a behind the scenes tour of the building saturday morning; it’s still in construction and shouldn’t open till november. it’s cool looking from the outside b/c of all the copper siding, which will eventually develop a nice patina, and there are lots of planters all over the place in the front, so a bunch of green should eventually cascade over the sides. the lightwell i speak of has a waterfall cascading down a limestone wall that runs up one side of the lightwell – which is 9m x 3m x 3m, pretty large. this probably means nothing to you, but the lightwell is nice – it provides natural lighting 40′ down below the surface where you park your car, and creates a very visible exit route from the deck.

we got all of our lighting measurements and then got a tour or the rest of the building, which SUCKS. granted, it has a very nice public atrium, and there are some really great spaces and moments, but as a whole, i’m surprised at what a deal people are making of this thing. they’re trying to get this building a silver LEED rating – for those that don’t know what that is, it’s the industry rating for making sustainable buildings, silver is third highest (then gold and platinum). the thing doesn’t even have operable windows! the architect who toured us claimed that all the design teams sat down and decided that operable windows weren’t worth it in the austin climate b/c it’s so humid. it’s only really humid in the summer! what about spring and fall and the random warm days during our mild winter? plus, the building is right on the water – it was almost 80degrees when we were there, and there was an incredible breeze that flowed right through the building b/c it didn’t have glass yet! what a load of bullshite! PLUS, there were these random columns in the middle of offices, which by the way, were laid out like a common office building, so the suckers w/o perimeter offices didn’t get any daylight. oh, my bad, the architect so thoughtfully put those vertical windows in next to the doors – she seriously claimed that was a method for them to get daylighting inside the building. oh..my..god.

my disbelief at the simple things missed is not a symptom of my naivety or lack of experience. one of the students, getting his second masters, had been a practicing architect for 20 years all over the world for big firms, and said the same things. this building is the epitome of the LEED certification – higher efficiency using energy intensive products, since the LEED certification itself is an industry set standard. the only incentive they have is to sell their products. granted, it’s a good starting point and is better than nothing, but this building had some glaring mistakes. especially as austin is positioning itself as one of the foremost ‘green’ cities (a new solar electricity plan was just rolled out w/ major incentives – we should be the most solar city in the country in a matter of years – UTSolarD is going to benefit from some of the incentives) the new city hall should be a landmark building that showcases serious sustainable building technology. efficient systems are not the way to being good, as william mcdonough so brilliantly stated in his lecture here last week, as well as in his revolutionary utopian manifesto cradle to cradle. being efficient, he says, is not the path to being good, it’s only being less bad. one of his standard lines is that an efficient nazi isn’t good – neither is an efficient building. it needs to effective. mcdonough just finished the renovation of the ford river rough manufacturing plant – THE manufacturing plant, which now sports over 2mil acres of green roof [the world’s largest]. apparently ford’s stormwater management system for that site cost $48mil. to install the green roof cost $13mil. the green roof acts as a stormwater management system by retaining runoff water (instead of letting it all drain off the roof and down the gutter, the soil absorbs it, feeding plants, and then eventually evaporating, helping to cool the building). that right there was a cost saving of $35mil, which was apparently the equivalent of a 900,000 car order of ford focus’. that’s how he frames the whole method of building green – frame it for the client, which in this case was focused on the bottom line.

anyway, back to CAD – need to finish drawing my house by this afternoon so i can start on the model tonight or tomorrow, i only have 2 days left.

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