Chicago has a new 82-story tower on its skyline that is due for completion in the Spring of 2010. But in a city of grids and rectilinear forms, the AQUA tower has a distinctive character with a more fluid appearance coming from the deep projecting balconies which are reminiscent of geologic rock formations. Designed by Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects, AQUA is also currently the tallest structure designed by a woman-led firm.
Ann Arbor, Michigan architectural firm A3C has turned its building into a showcase for a number of green building components, and managed to produce a LEED-CI Gold renovation of the existing two-story building while they were at it. The firm wanted to have a showcase for a variety of green building options, as well as providing themselves with firsthand experience with a number of different systems.
The USGBC has unveiled a half-dozen new credits for LEED which are being investigated in a pilot program currently underway. Pilot LEED credits include: Life Cycle Assessment of Building Assemblies and Materials; PBT Source Reduction; Medical and Process Equipment Efficiency; Innovative Ventilation; and Preliminary Integrative Project Planning & Design (2 credits).
The photograph above may not be what you would expect. The outdoor bench in this detail is not made from an unsustainably harvested tropical hardwood. The wood itself is actually maple, a widely available species that can be farmed and harvested without ripping up acres of rainforest. But maple and many other similar woods are too susceptible to decay and rot when used unprotected outdoors. The usual alternative has been treatment with chemical pressure treatment. Now, through a method called kebonization, a Norwegian company, Kebony ASA, treats soft woods in a non-toxic process that allows readily available woods to be used for outdoor uses.
As we noted here a few weeks ago, the draft for a new version of U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program was released for public comment and review. In general, as a LEED Accredited Professional, what I saw in the program looked good. The changes that are proposed will make improvements to the system. Below is a discussion of changes we can look forward to in the next generation of LEED.
The Skinners Playground project by Phooey Architects of Melbourne, Australia is a project that makes compelling use of shipping containers. Many container architecture projects do little that breaks out of the strong rectilinear form of the component boxes. While only four shipping containers were used for Skinners Playground, they are cut and amended in such as way as to make much more of them than simply four box-shaped rooms. Even if the exteriors had been painted over, it would be immediately obvious that this was built from shipping containers. But, at the same time, this is a case of the whole being far more than merely a sum of its parts.