Articles - September, 2007

The Austonian to be Green, Austin's Tallest Tower (S2)

The Austonian

In a city known for its aversion to development and proudly celebrated with the phrase "Keep Austin Weird," what does it take to get the go ahead approvals on what will be the tallest tower in the skyline?  Quite simply, a commitment to green building.  The Austonian, developed by Benchmark Development and designed by Ziegler Cooper Architects, is going to be one of a kind in Austin.  And judging by the renderings, it’s going to tower over everything else in the city, too.  The 56-floor building will have 188 residential condominiums, with pricing from $550,000 (rough revenue analysis = 188 * $550k = $103.4 M).  But there’s also going to be some ground floor retail, and according to Emporis, construction is expected to be complete in 2009.

The Austonian will be built to Austin’s well-known Green Building Program, with features such as a rainwater capture system; high-performance, low-E glass walls; Mecho-Shades; and Energy Star-rated appliances.  There’s also going to be an urban garden a first-class fitness room on the top floor.  The tower will feature a glass and aluminum “skin” that is layered to provide depth to its slender shape.  So, all in all, it looks good and if you’re going to build high, at least it’s in the middle of downtown. 

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The Spime Arrives, Bruce Sterling

The Spime Arrives

What does the future have in store for us?  In whose hands will design be?  What economic trends will prevail?  Bruce Sterling provides the answers to some of these questions.  But some of the answers are hard to understand.  He foresees monumental changes in the world of design:  a transformation of conventional users, with their currently available user-alterable gizmos, into “wranglers” with blobjects, spimes, and arphids in their pockets and briefcases. 

To visualize some of this future world, take a gander at Sterling’s web video: The Spime Arrives.  Someday, there will be a world where products are designed, visualized, and ordered online.  Consumers may be able to see products manufactured and shipped.  And products will be made of renewable, recycled materials, hailing from the closest, most efficient location.  Plus, when the product ceases to be useful, the manufacturer will take it back from us with a smile.  Trash will diminish, the loop will close.  This is a world where everything is downloadable.  Metadata is valuable and enables solutions. 

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LEED Costs, Urban Wind, Green Building Growth + Clinton Global Initiative Commitments (WIR)

Week in Review

UMB Bank Colorado, Denver's Second Green Roof Building [Updated]

UMB Stapleton

UMB Bank Colorado, a chartered bank of UMB Financial Corporation (NASDAQ: UMBF), is getting ready to unveil their new “green” banking center at Stapleton, which opens to the public on Monday, October 1. The UMB Bank at Stapleton is Denver’s second building to incorporate a grass roof into the structural design. The banking center is located at 3515 Quebec Street in Quebec Square at Stapleton.  Speaking of the building’s green roof, Mariner Kemper, chairman and CEO of UMB Bank Colorado, said, “Amidst growing concerns over the health of the environment and the rising cost of natural resources, there is a national trend to develop ‘green’ buildings … green buildings are designed to reduce the impact on the environment by conserving resources such as water and energy while blending with the features of the natural landscape. Our new banking center in Stapleton further supports UMB’s commitment to a cleaner, safer, and sustainable environment.” 

NOTE: I wasn’t able to find an actual picture of the building, but I know we have some JG readers in Denver on the scene.  Feel free to email me live pictures if you have them (jetsongreen at yahoo dot com).

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Lawrence Country Home with Trombe Wall, Small Wind + Solar Power

Lawrence Country Green Home

This home isn’t necessarily modern, but it has all the modern conveniences one could ask for: solar panels, small wind, radiant floor heating, air filtration system, and a trombe wall, etc.  Kent and Kathy Lawrence’s custom country home, which was completed in 2005, ended up costing roughly $300 psf.  The wind turbine alone came in at a cool $37,100 (producing 13,000 kwh/year), and that’s without tax subsidies.  And unlike many custom homes that tend to explore new boundaries of profusion, this home is only 2,200 sf.  Not bad.  But the Lawrence’s weren’t just concerned with smart design and energy efficiency.  Currently, they’re removing invasive plant species and planting native flowers, just trying to be gentle stewards of the land they inhabit.  I think this is a rather picturesque setting for a home … much the American Dream. 

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Napa Prefab Now For Rent!

Napa Prefab

Have you ever wanted to walk through a prefab or see what the excitement is about in person?  If you live on the west coast, the opportunity to walk through a prefab happens fairly frequently.  Just wait for the right conference or event and you'll hear about a tour or walk through.  Now, two hours north of San Francisco in Napa County (Pope Valley), there's a Rocio Romero prefab open for tour, rental, or even for commercial photo, movie, and production shoots. 

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