Judson Symposium Explores AIA 2030 Commitment Progress in Chicago

Judson University hosted a symposium of Chicago architects and educators on the topic of the AIA 2030 Commitment. The two day symposium included keynote speaker Bill Browning of Terrapin, and several presentations and discussion. A summary of the symposium and some thoughts of my own about progress and lack thereof in the building industry can be viewed on the Architecture Department vimeo site:

Kaiser Presentation of the AIA 2030 Commitment in 2012: Progress, Barriers and Opportunities


SFHS a real winner for sustainable passive design and contemporary architecture

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.

High Performance School Nearing Completion

The high school addition at St. Francis is nearing completion.

North elevation from Roosevelt Road

North elevation oblique

West elevation oblique

North elevation close up

South elevation oblique, demonstrating effective use of shading canopy and cantilevered form.

In-progress physics lab with disbursed daylighting (there are no lights on in this photograph!)

Double-loaded corridor, yes, boring, no. Daylighting pools create texture and visually/spatially interesting cadence along the hallway.

Advanced Building Envelope Design

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.”

West view with unpainted fiber cement cladding and most of the solarban glazing installed.

South view with unpainted fiber cement cladding installed and glazing in process.

Southwest corner, projecting greenhouse, elliptical smart classroom, and cladding installation process; job principal Marty Serena.

Nichiha fiber cement panel rainscreen cladding installed on the north elevation.

Final layer of 3/4" plywood sheathing, before installation of vapor barrier and rainscreen.

Final rigid insulation installation background, insulation between furring strips in the foreground.

Installation of the first layer of 1 1/2" rigid insulation between 2x4 furring strips.

Installation of the spray-on air barrier over the first layer of 3/4" plywood sheathing.

Installation of the metal stud exterior wall system.

Installation of the structural steel.

High Performance School Under Construction

Some of my recent work includes the design and energy scheming of a new addition to an existing private college prep high school in the Chicago area. This 20,000 g.s.f. addition promises to be one of only a handful of LEED platinum, high performance schools, in the country. It consists of a lower level library learning center and an upper level suite of six science labs. The use of daylighting is prevalent throughout, and the library uses a stack induced cross ventilation strategy during the swing months for energy conservation. The library staff can push a button and the natural ventilation mode will over-ride the mechanical system. The building meets the 2030 Challenge for energy conservation, performing at 60% below national standard EUI. On-site renewable energy will provide 75% of the electric load required by the facility.

View from the southwest, with deep facade on south for solar gain control, passive solar, and daylighting.

Northwest elevation

Six concept sections that document key strategies for the passive systems in the architecture of the addition.

Interior view of library with south glazing to the left of the photograph. Notice daylight penetration, but not direct solar gains on this south glazing.

Science lab/classroom with movable desks in the center half of the room, top lighting skylights to balance the daylighting from the rear of the classroom, and contemporary feel that transitions the archetypal science lab from a stuffy cave into a place of discovery and exploration.

Having fun with my zero energy class during a construction site visit