Page E1.1 . 08 October 2003                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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Naturally Cool Convention Center

by David Linamen and Harry Gordon

Echoing the shape of bridges arcing over the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the new David L. Lawrence Convention Center. A sail-like roof is suspended from steel cables over the four-story riverfront building.

The dramatic form designed by architect Rafael Viñoly Architects is more than visually striking, however. The sweeping roof channnels river breezes and creates a degree of natural ventilation that is extraordinary for a building of this type and size.

The 1.4 million-square-foot (130,000-square-meter) convention center is expected to become the largest building yet to be certified as "green" by the U. S. Green Building Council through its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. LEED certification is based on criteria such as site selection, water and energy efficiencies, and use of nontoxic and recycled building materials.

In particular, three sustainable design strategies — natural ventilation, natural lighting, and water efficiency — were developed by our local architecture and engineering firm Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann to cut energy consumption 30 percent compared to that of similar but more conventionally engineered facilities.

Natural Ventilation

To promote cross ventilation, the building takes advantage of the "chimney effect" created by the sweeping roof and of convection currents from the river. Vents in the building's north and south facades allow outside air to flow through the building without requiring fans or other mechanical systems.   >>>

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The David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, designed by Rafael Viñoly and Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates.
Photo: Hedrich Blessing Photographers

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HVAC ducts of fabric offer several advantages.
Photo: Hedrich Blessing Photographers


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