Tuning a Building at KieranTimberlake
by Stephen Kieran, James Timberlake, and Karl Wallick
At KieranTimberlake, we frequently conduct postoccupancy building monitoring to verify the performance of our buildings. Preproject monitoring services are used to diagnose and treat existing buildings.
A monitoring program preceded renovation work at Yale University's Sage Bowers Hall, a 1920s-era classroom and office building. The study compared existing uninsulated construction with mock-ups that added new insulation and energy-efficient window assemblies.
We sought data to answer the following questions: How much energy is lost through the wall? Is the dew point reached in the modified or unmodified wall assemblies? Does the indoor ambient room temperature exceed thermal comfort levels? How does the modified window compare to the unmodified window in keeping the room comfortable?
Data from this project may inform other renovation projects on the campus. Given current and emerging energy paradigms, it is no longer tenable to compensate for underperforming solid masonry walls and single-glazed windows by overheating.
Tuning at KieranTimberlake
Questions of performance are central to contemporary architectural thinking. Be they technical or economic, these lines of discourse are often divorced from the intimacy of human experience.
One of our primary responsibilities as architects is to anticipate the human propensity to inhabit space by tuning one's own environment: adjusting the light available for reading or changing a room's orientation through furnishings.
Even more fundamental — to every discipline — is the need to advance long-established methods and expectations by challenging them with new understanding.
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This article is excerpted from KieranTimberlake: Inquiry by Stephen Kieran, James Timberlake, and Karl Wallick, copyright © 2011, with permission of the publisher, Rizzoli.