Tag archives for | environment

Tag archives for: environment

Green Means Green for Architects

Green means green for architects that make a serious investment in green architecture and sustainability.  When the recession hit in 2007, the housing and real estate markets were hugely impacted. Jobs in architecture became scarce, and architects started getting laid off in droves. Though there’s been an increase since 2010 in positions in this arena, the sector still struggles to maintain a steady increase in available gigs. According to SimplyHired, since July of 2013, there’s been a 24.4% increase in employment in Los Angeles and 34.4% in New York, so things are looking brighter. In fact, the green or sustainable architect is experiencing a major increase in work, with positions in both cities at an all time high because of the growth of the green economy.

There’s really no set rule for who can dub themselves green architects, but the program responsible for verifying green buildings is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). It gives points to projects based on their utilization of sustainable components. However, LEED doesn’t give awards to projects for performance, so there are other available options for certification: the Living Buildings Challenge, Passive House Institute, Green Globes and the government’s Energy Star Program all provide certification based on green standards.

In major metropolises like New York and Los Angeles, the green economy is growing. The public’s demand for green construction is due to its growing awareness of the dangers of climate change. While the green movement is considered “chic,” architects are expanding their views by combating climate change not only with their building designs but by constructing the bigger systems in which they function.

“We think of great design as having four equally important parts: ethical practice, experiential design, thoughtful impact, and excellent delivery. Included in ethical practice is sustainability and the idea that you can’t create great design without it. This translates into our everyday office operations in many big and small ways. The really exciting sustainable operations are yet to come in our new office!”
Irwin Miller, Los Angeles, Principal Design Director, Gensler .

In 2011, the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) listed the mean wage for a green architect as $83,390 – about $30,000 more than a residential architect. The BLS also predicts faster-than-average growth for architects until 2020, with green architects in particularly high demand.

Architecture is about designing structures. Green architecture goes one step further by altering structures so that they can contribute to the well-being of the environment. Some architecture firms are green firms not only because they specialize in this type of building, but because they incorporate the green philosophy into how they operate.

Green Architecture Sites:

Architecture for Humanity

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CornellNYC Chooses Its Architect

After a competition that included some of the world’s most prominent architects, Thom Mayne of the  firm Morphosis has been selected to design the first academic building for Cornell University’s high-tech graduate school campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City. 

“The goal here is to develop a one-of-a-kind institution,” Mr. Mayne said in an interview at his New York office. (Morphosis also has an office in Los Angeles.) “It’s got to start from rethinking — innovating — an environment.”

The building will get extra attention as the first part of an engineering and applied-science campus charged by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg with spurring New York City’s high-tech sector. It needs to embody the latest in environmental advances and to incorporate the increasingly social nature of learning today by creating ample spaces for people to interact. And to succeed, Mr. Mayne said, it must visually connect to the rest of the city, because its setting is surrounded by water.

Mr. Mayne has grappled with academic buildings before, perhaps most notably one for the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in the East Village, completed in 2009, whose concave facade is clad in a perforated metal screen and punctuated by a vertical gash.

Mr. Mayne said the Cornell project presented an opportunity to contemplate what an academic building should look like in the information age. Should it have the bullpen environments of tech start-ups or the more cloistered layout of established universities? How should it use space to foster collaboration while also carving out areas for quiet reflection?

“There is no modern prototype for a campus,” Mr. Mayne said. “You have to have a completely different model which has to do with transparency and exposing social connectivity and breaking down the Balkanization that happens departmentally.”

There are no snazzy architectural images yet, nor can Mr. Mayne speculate about what shape the building will take or what materials he might use. “I haven’t even seen the site plan yet,” he said. The only certainty is that Mr. Mayne will not inaugurate Cornell’s new campus by designing some kind of ivory tower.

“I like being able to tell you that I don’t have any bloody idea what it’s going to look like,” he said.

Daniel P. Huttenlocher, dean of the new campus, to be called CornellNYC Tech, and a Cornell vice provost, said that as a computer scientist, he was “very sympathetic to the form-follows-function view of the world” and that he was “heartened by an architect who doesn’t want to get too caught up in the form too early in the process.”

At the same time, Cornell is in a hurry, having pledged to have classes up and running by September in leased space in Manhattan (location to be announced). The Mayne building is expected to break ground in 2014 and to be completed by the start of the 2017 academic year.

Mr. Mayne’s building is part of a campus that will be developed over two decades. The campus will comprise more than two million square feet of building space at a cost of over $2 billion and will serve more than 2,000 students. It will include three academic buildings; three residential buildings; three buildings for research and development; and a hotel and conference center.

In December Cornell, in partnership with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, won the yearlong competition to build the campus, beating teams that included one from Stanford University and City College of New York.

The master plan is being designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which was among the six finalists for the Cornell campus. The others were Rem Koolhaas’s Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Diller Scofidio & Renfro, Steven Holl Architects and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.

Mr. Mayne’s 150,000-square-foot building is expected to cost about $150 million, Mr. Huttenlocher said, which will be covered by a $350 million gift through an alumnus. The city is providing $100 million in infrastructure improvements, as well as the land on Roosevelt Island, currently occupied by a little-used hospital. The new building will include classrooms, laboratories, offices and meeting space.

Morphosis was chosen partly because of its track record of completing projects on time and at a reasonable cost, Mr. Huttenlocher said. “We can’t afford for the budget to be something that balloons out of control,” he added.

The campus is designed to bring academic and private-sector research and development together to speed the translation of academic work into usable products and services.

Mr. Mayne said he would start by talking with the engineering firm Arup about how to design a building with zero-net energy consumption that will use and produce geothermal and solar power.

While the building’s design should be arresting, Mr. Huttenlocher said it also must satisfy its tech-savvy generation of users, who will adapt the space to their needs if it fails to suit them.

“If the building didn’t function well, I think it would get hacked to pieces,” Mr. Huttenlocher said. He added that Cornell liked Morphosis’s “ability to create iconic structures whose form does not obscure or impede its program.”

Mr. Mayne said he designed spaces that were meant to be personalized and “not in any way pristine.”

Morphosis tries to create spaces that allow work to happen in the most effective way possible, Mr. Mayne said. “After that,” he added, “we should stay out of the way.”

Source: NYT

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Architects criticize W.T.C. security plan

Architect and Battery Park City resident Jordan Gruzen speaking at Community Board 1’s full board meeting on March 27, in opposition to the NYPD’s planned barricades and street closures around the W.T.C.

Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Jordan Gruzen, partner in the award-winning firm of Gruzen Samton Architects, doesn’t often make an appearance at Community Board 1 meetings, but he felt strongly enough about the N.Y.P.D.’s proposed World Trade Center security plan to show up at C.B. 1’s full board meeting on March 27 to speak against the plan.

Gruzen is co-chair of New York New Visions, a coalition of 21 architecture, planning and design organizations that first met a week after 9/11 in a pro bono effort to address the issues surrounding the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan. At the Community Board meeting, Gruzen said he was speaking on behalf of New York New Visions.

“We are very concerned that the World Trade Center plan that has taken thousands of hours of individuals’ input to make it a vital, beautiful and fabulous urban place that people visit from all around the world, not be spoiled,” he said.

He referenced the Police Headquarters plaza, which his firm designed, and called conditions there “atrocious.” After 9/11 it was barricaded and blocked off from vehicle access.

“It’s a vital piece of the city that’s been allowed to fall into disrepair and we don’t want that to happen to the World Trade Center. There’s too much thought [put into it] and it’s too central to our culture and to our city’s vitality.”

In a telephone conversation after the Community Board meeting, Gruzen elaborated.

He said that for years, the members of New York New Visions had been privy to the plans for the World Trade Center site and had played an important role in formulating them.  “We were treated as trusted confidantes who would put our best minds at it,” he said,  “and we had some of the best names in the New York professional offices – notable architects who have a lot of integrity. At this point, we’ve been pushed aside and told [by the N.Y.P.D.] ‘it’s our decision. It’s our decision alone.’”

Gruzen said that New York New Visions concurred with Community Board 1, which has drafted a resolution spelling out the ways in which the proposed security plan would create unacceptable logistic problems for residents and businesses in the World Trade Center vicinity.

There would be checkpoints around a “superblock” and streets connecting the World Trade Center site with the rest of Manhattan would be essentially closed to traffic.

“The taxi drivers have said this isn’t going to work,” Gruzen said. “Lower Manhattan won’t be serviced the way it should be. There will be backups. I think the N.Y.P.D. is trying to be very responsible. I think they feel an obligation to the country and to the world. But the way they’ve interpreted that responsibility is having a consequence.”

Gruzen said that the members of New York New Visions did not have enough information at this point to make specific recommendations as to what should be done. “We need all the facts and we need to be treated as insiders,” he said. “We have been, for 10 years. Lately it’s been more and more difficult to access information and data, so one naturally draws the conclusion that the game is being played by the strictest and most extreme rules. That might be O.K. or it might not be. I don’t think we have the answer. All we’re saying is that with something as serious as this, we ask for a citizens’ design board to participate and be trusted and be allowed to at least express ourselves and hopefully find solutions that might lead to a ‘reasonable’ amount of risk in a high security area.”

Community Board 1 has a similar agenda. “We’ve asked for the creation of a citizens’ advisory committee so that we can work with [the N.Y.P.D.] as the study is being done to make sure that they consider the things that concern us,” said Michael Levine, director of planning and land use for Community Board 1. “If we wait for publication of the final draft Environmental Impact Statement, we have no idea what they will consider. They could ignore everything we’ve said.”

C.B. 1 chairman Julie Menin concurred. “Technically, we don’t have a right to block the plan but I think we’ve been able to show at Community Board 1 for many years that when we have an idea, and we make a lot of noise, we can get things done,” she said. “This is our time. Now is our time to try to change the plan.”


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