Just received notice that my paper for the International Conference on Sustainable Design, Engineering and Construction, “Expression and evidence, advances in architecture studio pedagogy,” was accepted for presentation and eventual publication through Elsevier/Science Direct. The paper is another partial chapter toward my book project developing a design studio pedagogy to address resource conservation and enhance quality of life of building users.
The project that has consumed most of my creative energy in the past two years has finally come to a close. Working closely with a great team of Marty Serena, Dave Dankert, and Mike Karkowski at Serena Sturm Architects in Chicago, we have accomplished a remarkable school addition that is projected to operate on a 60% reduction of energy, and is complemented by a 20% on-site renewable energy portfolio. Daylighting alone, and especially top lighting in the labs, coached by Jim Benya’s very good work for the California school system, will reduce energy consumption by about 15-20%. Passive solar design will create boost energy in the winter months with south facing glazing. Whole building flush out potential with a manually operated natural ventilation system overriding the mechanical system will ensure maximum possible fresh air supply, on demand by the user. We expect this facility will become a case study for passive design of schools in the region.
A school that is under construction in the Chicago area promises to be one of only a handful of LEED platinum high schools in the US when it opens later this year. I have had the privilege of working on the design and energy scheme of this new facility. It features a simple, yet powerful, building envelope that employs an intentionally redundant system of layers to ensure maximum performance. The wall system consists of 11 components, with each installed methodically and carefully monitored during execution. The wall components, from inside to outside, is comprised of:
1. Steel structure
2. 5/8″ gypsum board
3. Uninsulated metal stud framing
4. 3/4″ plywood sheathing with horizontal 2×4 wood furring strips @ 27″ centers
5. Spray on air barrier
6. 1 1/2″ rigid insulation board in between the furring strips, attached with spray adhesive
7. 2″ rigid insulation board with staggered joints completely wrapping the structure, attached with screw anchors to 2×4 furring, with taped joints and taped screw heads
8. 3/4″ plywood sheathing attached with nail anchors to 2×4 furring
9. Vaproshield vapor barrier
10. 3/4″ fiber cement panel exterior rainscreen
11. Window and door systems
The components and system ensures practically zero thermal breaks, complete trapping of moisture within a breathable envelope, and a rainscreen which depressurizes the exterior surface. The system displaces conventional notions of material minimalization and hyper-efficiency with a more sophisticated idea of intentional layered redundancy. This redundancy virtually ensures performance success because it overcomes jobsite failures, each layer providing a safety mechanism of its own to ensure overall system integrity. While one component may fail, the other components will compensate. The Hebrew proverb “two are better than one because when one falls, the other can help him back up” comes to mind, and also “a chord of three strands is not easily broken.”