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ELEMENT Hotel, Details of Starwood's Green Extended-Stay Hotel Brand

ELEMENT Hotel

I’m pleased to share some information and renderings on ELEMENT, Starwood Hotels & Resorts new extended-stay hotel brand set to open in 2008.  The idea behind ELEMENT is to make smart choices intuitive and support the lifestyles of guests while they are away from home.  ELEMENT Hotels performed research on guest behavior, which revealed that socially conscious hotel guests are more likely to leave their good habits at home when traveling.  That’s because, depending on the hotel, it may be difficult to recycle, conserve water, or maintain a lower impact lifestyle.  ELEMENT Hotels aims to change that.  Key smart design features of this green hotel include the following:

  • Shampoo/conditioner dispensers will eliminate multiple mini-bottles;
  • Low-flow sink faucets and dual flush toilets will lead to an estimated conservation of 4,358.6 gallons of water per room each year;
  • Eco-friendly materials will be used throughout, including recycled content carpets;
  • Low-VOC paints for improved indoor air quality for guests and staff;
  • CFL light bulbs will be used throughout the building to reduce energy consumption; and
  • Biophilic design that maximizes natural light and sightlines to the outdoors will help connect occupants to their natural surroundings. 

Feel free to click on over to this PDF brochure to read more about the ELEMENT Hotel and what it will look like.  The hotel design is pretty incredible, as you will see from the images below the fold. 

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The Business of Modern Prefab, a Rocio Romero Perspective

LVL Home

Rocio Romero is a 35-year-old designer, manufacturer, and entrepreneur.  She’s well known for her minimalist, modern LV Home.  Do you know the history behind Rocio Romero?  Christy Marshall authored an excellent article on her and her growing business in modern prefab.  Romero is a graduate of University of California-Berkeley and Southern California Institute of Architecture (aka SCI-Arc).  One of her first designs was a summer house for her parents in Laguna Verde outside of Santiago, Chile.  That home was modified slightly and has become the LV Home that we see popping up all over the country.  As for pricing, here’s what you can expect:

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Are Starchitects Resistant to Environmentalism + Humanitarianism?

LA Times

There’s an opinion piece by Christopher Hawthorne in the LA Times about the potential absence of star architects, lazily referred to as ‘starchitects’, from the realm of humanitarian architecture.  When I say humanitarian architecture, I’m referring to such causes as environmentalism, poverty, or illness, etc.  Hawthorne laments the lack of a green Rem Koolhaus, smacking on about Peter Eisenman as the villain of green and Zaha Hadid as careless of anything other than her legacy.  To quote:

But it also means that the leaders of this new movement, who tend to be rather bland as media personalities, are overshadowed by older architects and designers far less interested in sustainability or fighting poverty — and far more experienced at attracting attention and wielding celebrity. In the last 20 years, the most appealing figures in the profession have cultivated a decidedly apolitical, even defiantly cynical outlook…

Among the green generation, who is heading up the charge? Well, nobody, really. This may be the first movement in architectural history whose followers are more famous than its leaders. Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Orlando Bloom are well-known fans of green design. Among green designers, on the other hand, we have the ambitiously principled (read: sorta vanilla) Cameron Sinclair, who leads Architecture for Humanity; the great, greatly mustachioed and soft-spoken Shigeru Ban; and William McDonough, who is beginning to project an Andy Rooney vibe.

Now, for my own thoughts…I’m not an architect, so I’ll let the pros chime in, but I will speak to the issue from the perspective of a developer or business owner that retains an architect for a project.  First, isn’t the person paying the commission the one fueling the star architect ego, egos that brazenly design with no thought for the world that the structure will occupy?  Doesn’t money dictate direction?  If I want a green building, and it’s my money, I’ll find the right person for the job.  Don’t these people have a grand stage because it’s been given to them?  Second, it seems like the leaders of the green movement aren’t singular figures, but they’re large firms such as SOM, Foster + Partners, FXFOWLE Architects, and Murphy/Jahn Architects.  It seems like it takes a village to raise a humanitarian building, not an individual. 

But, is this a contradiction with the architectural archetype in Howard Roark.  Are these starchitects just modern day Roarks?  But wouldn’t Roark try to use new materials and methods like green building + low-income architecture, etc.?  Matter of fact, as I recall, Roark did build a low-income project.  Tell me what you think…

MiniHome: Ultimate Sustainable Mobility

Sustain Minihome

This is the Sustain Minihome, a green, urban RV for the modern-day recreationists.  When you see this, you won’t believe how much functionality and comfort can go into a mere 325 sf.  To get the real feel of it, go check out the HGTV video of Andy Thomson’s miniHome (the designer).  Nice.  I’m pretty sure this is going on the Christmas wish list.

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The Greenest Home in San Francisco – Clipper House by LORAX Development

The Greenest Home in San Francisco - The Clipper House

I read an excellent article about San Francisco’s Clipper House by LORAX Development in Solar Today magazine and wanted to share some info about it.  The Clipper House has become a showcase for residential sustainable features, basically showing off everything but the financial case for green building.  The 2,600 sf home was designed by John Maniscalco/Architecture, Inc., and was completed in the summer of 2006.  For a cool $1.9 M, you could probably purchase this incredible home–often referred to as the Greenest Home in San Francisco. 

If you do, here’s what you’re going to get:  1.7 kw DC photovoltaic array with BP Solar panels installed by SolarCity (total cost $16,700, net AR $11,543); 64 sf of solar thermal glazed collectors by Heliodyne ($6,750); warmboard radiant heating system using PEX tubing ($50,000); rainwater-catchment system by Wonderwater Inc. ($25,000); hemp carpets colored with vegetable dyes; low-VOC paints and caulks throughout; energy-efficient windows and doors; hardwood floors made from 100-yr-old TerraMai railroad ties from Southeast Asia; FSC-certified kitchen cabinets; Richlite kitchen counters made from recycled paper products; recycled blue jean insulation by Bonded Logic; 50-year warranty James Hardie fiber-cement siding made partially with fly ash; and recycled plastic and wood Trex composite decking.  The Clipper House certainly prioritizes energy-efficiency, properly sourced sustainable materials, and indoor air quality.  Real nice. 

Good Links:
++Pushing Boundaries, Advancing a Market [Solar Today]
++520 Clipper in Noe Valley: Smart, Green, Luxe [LORAX - PDF]
++Clipper Street Green Home Facts & Images [LORAX]

Group 41, "CONTAIN Your Enthusiasm"

Hybrid_seattle

It’s been a long time since I’ve written about container architecture, but there’s a good reason to do it today because I’ve received a tip on Joel Karr and Group 41.  This San Francisco-based architecture firm is issuing a innovative project challenge.  Here’s how it works:

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