Page N1.2 . 16 May 2007                     
ArchitectureWeek - News Department
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COTE Top Ten 2007


Water and Sun

Government Canyon Visitor Center in Helotes, Texas, designed by Lake/Flato Architects, forms the gateway to the Government Canyon State Natural Area. The new building includes an exhibit hall, park store, classrooms, offices, and an outdoor pavilion.

To minimize the building's impact on the landscape and fragile water resources, the architects strove to "do more with less." They eliminated extraneous space and reduced material and energy use. They designed exhibit and circulation spaces originally programmed as indoor spaces as sheltered and shaded outdoor spaces that would accept summer breezes while being protected from north winds. These spaces are not air-conditioned, reducing conditioned space by 35 percent and further reducing material and energy costs.

Rainwater is collected from all available roof area and stored in partially exposed, underground, concrete cisterns. These filter out solid contaminates with gravel and landscape caps. A solar-powered pump lifts the stored groundwater to the storage-tank tower above, providing gravity feed for drip irrigation and for wastewater conveyance.

Juror Susan Szenasy observed: "The building opens up and shades itself and fits into the landscape in an unaggressive way. There is also something really familiar and comfortable about it. The composition is very carefully controlled, from the site plan to details."

Recycled Building

Croxton Collaborative Architects, who designed the Willingboro (New Jersey) Master Plan & Public Library took "recycling" seriously by reusing an entire building. The site had been a shopping mall that had failed, and the new library's construction conserved 100 percent of the original structural steel frame and concrete foundations.

The mall had not been designed or oriented for daylight, so the architects added seven major clerestories along a north-south axis. At an angle to the existing beams and joists, this glazing creates transitory "dappled light" effects. In addition, operable windows promote natural ventilation.

Juror Anne Schopf said: "This is a tremendous example of how to make something beautiful and functional out of practically nothing... relevant to so much of the existing building stock that exists in this country. Addressing these neglected facilities in this way is complex. This project really transformed place in a holistic way."

Seawater Cooling

The Hawaii Gateway Energy Center in Kailua-Kona, by Ferraro Choi and Associates, took great advantage of the Big Island's ample resources: the wind, sun, and sea. The building integrates passive design strategies stack ventilation, daylighting, shading, and renewable cooling from deep seawater to conserve natural resources and achieve exceptional building performance.

A copper roof acts as the "engine" that triggers a thermosiphon, radiating heat from the sun into a ceiling plenum. The heated air begins to rise and is exhausted through "chimneys" on the building's north face. This hot, exhausting stream of air is continuously replenished with 100 percent fresh outside air that is routed across occupied space from a vented under-floor plenum.

Condensation is collected in a holding tank beneath the cooling coils that circulate 45-degree Fahrenheit (7-degree Centigrade) seawater used to chill incoming air used for ventilation. A small amount of the deep seawater is diverted and collected with the condensation. The resulting mix is used for deep-rooted plant irrigation and toilet flushing.

Traci Rose Rider spoke for the jury, saying they were "impressed by the way [the architects] blended active and passive technologies. This project uses photovoltaics and calls attention to that... It's really using all of earth's devices, then dramatizing that with this visible structure."

Teaching Environmentalism

The Sidwell Friends Middle School building in Washington, DC, by Kieran Timberlake Associates, is itself a teacher, according to juror Szenasy, making students conscious of water and light, "connecting them to the natural world" and helping to foster an ethic of social and environmental responsibility.   >>>

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Willingboro (New Jersey) Public Library, Croxton Collaborative Architects, is one of the AIA/COTE's "Top Ten Green Projects" of 2007.
Photo: Ruggero Vanni

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Daylit Willingboro Public Library.
Photo: Ruggero Vanni

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Defunct shopping mall, with punched skylights, becomes daylit library.
Image: Croxton Collaborative Architects

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Photovoltaic arrays dominate the image of the Hawaii Gateway Energy Center in Kailua-Kona, by Ferraro Choi and Associates.
Photo: Franzen Photography

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Shaded glazing provides view and daylight without solar heat gain.
Photo: Franzen Photography

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The Sidwell Friends Middle School in Washington, DC, by Kieran Timberlake Associates.
Photo: Barry Halkin

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Sidwell Friends Middle School library.
Photo: Barry Halkin

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The building fosters an ethic of social and environmental responsibility.
Photo: Peter Aaron/ Esto


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