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Skyscraper Sunday: Dallas Condo Tower, Azure, Going Green

Azure_dallas_image Absolute Architectural Splendor.  There’s a little bit of green development in Dallas, but we can do more to catch up to other progressive cities such as Portland + Austin.  Azure, a 375-foot condo in Dallas being developed by the innovative Gabriel Barbier-Mueller of Harwood International (+ Westback Projects Corporation), is Dallas’ first foray into LEED, green living, as far as residential condo development is concerned.  Azure is on track to receive the LEED gold certification from the USGBC, but it is trying to get platinum.  Really, all that matters is that this place will be green + modern. 

Architectural design is by James KM Cheng Architects Inc., interior design by Gensler and Lauren Rottet, FAIA, and external landscaping by SWA Group.  As far as sustainable building is concerned, here’s what I know so far:  high-performance engineered window system with clear anodized aluminum framing and insulated clear double glazing with Low-E coating; energy efficient lighting meeting National Energy Code; LEED certified building envelope and heating/air conditioning; and high-quality roller/motorized shading system made of sun control fabric. 

Azure_rendering Azure_interior Azure_side_rendering

Some amenities include Miele and Sub-Zero appliances and professionally designed interiors.  Owners will also have access to the spa, his/her sauna, state-of-the-art exercise facilities, private garage (refered to as "G2"), 17 seat theater, garden terrace and pool, boardroom, and library with a fireplace.  What this means is that Azure will be a 31 story, 202 unit, $400,000 – $4.2 M per-unit superstar.  Seriously.  And I know it’s well over 65% pre-sold, so those that are interested will need to jump on it quick.  It should be complete in Spring 2007. 

Extra Links:
Azure Website [www.azureliving.com]
The Allure of Azure [Jim Schutze - Observor]
Azure Live Construction Camera
Harwood International Website
Westbank Projects Corporation Website

Skyscraper Sunday: Hearst Tower Goes LEED Gold

Hearst_diagrid_structure The handsome Hearst Tower skyscraper achieved LEED Gold accreditation from the USGBC–it’s the first to be recognized as such in New York City.  The building architect is the famous Norman Foster, and this is the third time for Jetson Green to feature one of his buildings (30 St Mary Axe + WTC 200 Greenwich).  Norman Foster is literally one of the leading architects in the modern/contemporary + green building field.  This building is particularly bold for its environmental mission: it used 80% recycled steel and will consume 25% less energy than its skyscraper counterparts. 

Green Features:
The green features of Hearst Tower reflect the environmental commitment and vision of Hearst Corporation–a leading corporation with interests in magazines (O, The Oprah Magazine, Popular Mechanics, Cosmopolitan, + Esquire), newspapers (San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Post-Intelligencer), broadcasting, entertainment television (ESPN, ESPN2, Lifetime, A&E, + The History Channel), and interactive media (broadcast dot com, iVillage, XM Satellite Radio).  We are talking about a huge company taking a pro-active step to provide high-caliber, environmentally-friendly working spaces. 

  • About 85% of the original structure was recycled for future buildingHearst_at_dusk
  • The "diagrid" system (diagonal + grid) eliminates the need for verticle steel beams, which provides structural efficiency and greater use of natural light
  • Using the diagrid system required 20% less steel (a 2,000 ton savings in steel)
  • Foreign-sourced materials accounted for less than 10% of the total cost of construction
  • Low-E coated glass on the exterior of the building allow natural light into the building sans heat
  • Internal light sensors control the balance of artificial and natural light
  • Activity sensors adjust the system and turn off lights and computers when systems aren’t in use
  • The roof collects rainwater and reduces the amount of rainwater that dumps into NYC’s sewer system by 25%
  • A 14,000 gallon water reclamation tank in the basement provides 50% of the buildings water needs
  • Harvested water is used for the "Icefall"–a 3-story sculpted water feature (also the nation’s largest sustainable water feature) that will humidify and cool the atrium
  • Walls were painted with low-VOC paint, workstations were built without formaldehyde, and concrete surfaces were finished with low toxicity sealants
  • Floors and ceiling tiles are manufactured with recycled content
Hearst_atrium Ice_falls_water_feature_1

Extra Links:
Norman Foster Website
Hearst Tower LEED Certified in "Gold" [Treehugger - John Laumer]
The Hearst Tower [Architectural Record]

Skyscraper Sunday: SOM, Green Skycraper Firm of the Year

Jinao_tower_nanjing_1There’s just no stopping Skidmore, Owings + Merrill.  They are the (as nominated by Jetson Green) Green Skyscraper Firm of the Year.  I blogged about them in regards to the zero energy Pearl River Tower, which absolutely blows me away.  Have you seen the thing?  I also blogged about them on 9/11 because they designed the green Freedom Tower, which is going to be an architectural beacon of freedom and innovation for decades in the future.  When it comes to sustainability and architectural excellence in skyscapers, SOM is the number one firm.  That’s hands down. 

SOM has an enormous portfolio of work in China and they are working on over 15 skyscraper projects there right now.  Interestingly, it’s easier to be innovative in China because the climate lends itself to such behavior.  Firms in the US are reluctant to take on commercial/security risk.  They don’t want to tick off neighbors or trade unions either.  China on the other hand wants to push the envelope.  They have cheap materials and a desire to build green structures.  They are a command economy, so there’s not much public outcry, even if the building is outlandish.  Plus, global recognition helps their situation.  I get heaps of search queries on my blog everyday for a post I did on the Pearl River Tower–that’s global recognition.   

Nanjing_jinling_hotel_1 Nanjing_greenland Shenzhen_avic_plaza

I’ve included some pictures of buildings that SOM has designed for construction in China.  There’s too much to say about each, but one thing should be noted, however:  these buildings are all going to be done in 2007-2008.  There’s a quick turnaround time in China–they have the attitude to get things done.  Notice the delay for buildings like this in the United States and query whether that has anything to do with (in comparison) innovation, politics, determination, or drive.

Nanjing Greenland will have irregularly-spaced slots for green space that "march vertically up the facade."  Jinao Tower will be built with less steel than a traditional skyscraper.  It will be built around a diagonal grid bracing system (similar to the one used for Hearst Tower of New York).  Jinao Tower also features a double-skinned surface for solar shading and insulation.  Each SOM buildling is chock full of innovation. 

Extra Links:
SOM Company Site
Not Innovative?  SOM’s Skyscraper Projects in China Tell a Different Story [Architectural Record]

Skyscraper Sunday: Green Landmark Building For Sale (30 St Mary Axe)

Swiss_re_tower_london_2 Call it what you want:  "Gherkin," "The Cigar," "The Towering Innuendo," "30 St Mary Axe," or "Swiss Re Tower;" it looks like the insurance company, Swiss Re, has retained an agent to sell the place.  The 40-story building is one of the most recognizable shapes in London’s financial district.  Wanna guess the price?  600 million pounds ($1.1 billion dollars).  Now, I don’t know real estate values in London, but even for New York or San Francisco office building real estate, I think that’s a high price.  It’s worth it. 

30 St. Mary Axe:
London_swiss_re_tower_long The building was designed by Norman Foster (also architect of WTC 200 Greenwich – the "four diamonds" building) and completed in 2004.  It received the 2004 RIBA Stirling Price for Architecture and was nominated for a Bentley Award of Excellence.  It was the first skyscraper to be built in The City for 25 years and stands tall at 590 feet.  Known for its cylindrical facade and phallic shape, the building is even more revered for its state-of-the-art design features. 

State-of-the-Art Design:
Advanced parametric modeling was used to reduce wind loads + turbulence and maximize natural light + ventilation exposure.  Comparatively speaking, 30 St Mary Axe consumes 50% less energy than a traditional large office building.  The building design allows for natural ventilation (a feature that can be used about 40% of the year). 

Swiss_re_wind_model Swiss_re_color_wind_model Swiss_re_model

Interesting Fact: 
Swiss_re_dome There’s only one piece of curved glass in 30 St Mary Axe…guess where?  The lens at the pinnacle of the structure.  One could go on and on about the various technologies used in this building, but my post would get too long.  For those interested, I’ve attached a list of some sources with more information. 

Extra Links:
30 St Mary Axe [Official Website]
Modeling the Swiss Re Tower [ArchitectureWeek]
London’s ‘Gherkin’ for Sale [Yahoo]
30 St Mary Axe – Norman Foster [GreatBuildings]

Pearl River Tower, Guangzhou, China

Pearl River Tower This is the architectural rendering of a building designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; it is planned to be 71 stories, 2.2 million square feet, and have a "net" zero-energy footprint. The building is designed to use wind turbines, radiant slabs, microturbines, geothermal heat sinks, ventilated facades, waterless urinals, integrated photovoltaics, condensate recovery, and daylight responsive controls. I first noticed mention of this incredible project in an article of Architectural Record Magazine.

According to Roger Frechette, director of MEP Sustainable Engineering at SOM, Chicago, the building’s facade was designed "to accelerate the wind as it moved through the opening in the building." Power potential is the cube of wind velocity, and SOM initially estimated that the design would increase wind velocity to 1.5 times ambient wind speeds. Actually, models tested wind speeds of up to 2.5 times ambient wind speeds in some cases. In translation: the building design could generate power 15 times greater than a "freestanding" turbine.

According to a PR Newswire article, groundbreaking is set for July 2006 (which I’m not sure if this happened or not) and occupancy in fall 2009. In addition to the wind energy concept, the building will be designed with avant-garde solar technology to capture solar rays for conversion into energy.

So what are the benefits of a modern, sustainable commercial office building? First, the building looks amazing! Second, it can be an experiment and model for future buildings. Third, buildings that are built to be sustainable, or energy independent, are better. They are not dependent on the grid. They aren’t levered to the cost of grid energy (such as the price of coal, nuclear energy, or even other alternative sources provided into the grid). They leave a lighter footprint on the earth and its atmosphere–zero energy buildings are the epitome of natural resource frugality. Fourth, it can be healthier to live in. Fifth, it will create attention and draw tenants for publicity and other reasons. Sixth, the operating costs of this type of building are optimized and likely to be minimal when compared to non-sustainable buildings. Etc. Etc.

This building is a step in the right direction for commercial building design. I hope more and more buidings of this caliber can be transplanted all over the United States. Through sustainable design, countries can place themselves in a position to be less reliant on natural resource providing countries. As we’ve seen with the oil situation, that can be a big-time jam. Sustainable building–commercial and residential–is the road we should be taking.

Extra Links:
+World Architecture News

+Business Week/Architectural Record

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