Dear ArchitectureWeek Readers,
ArchitectureWeek No. 545 is now available on the Web, with these new design and building features, and more. This Notes edition is sponsored by Autodesk:
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The Konkol Residence, designed by TE Studio, is a certified Passive House, sporting a 22" thick exterior wall section with an R-value of 70. Photo: Chad Holder
Passive House Divided
by Christine MacDonald
Passive House-certified buildings may take next to
nothing to heat. But conflict between the German
creators of the Passive House energy performance
standard and their U.S. affiliate continues to generate
energy months after it spilled into public view.
The Passivhaus Institut (PHI) of Darmstadt, Germany,
severed ties with the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS)
of Urbana, Illinois, in an open letter released on
August 17, 2011.
The letter from Passive House co-creator Dr. Wolfgang
Feist of PHI alleged, among other things, that PHIUS,
which had been PHI's sole U.S. affiliate, had issued an
official certification to a house that was not up to the
Passive House standard — one of the world's
toughest when it comes to energy efficiency.
A few days later, Katrin Klingenberg, executive director
and co-founder of PHIUS, fired back, denying the charges
and leveling allegations at PHI, including breaches of
contract and business ethics.
Beyond the specific accusations, the dispute entwines
the direction and pace of the growth of the Passive
House program in the United States, where the standard
officially arrived in the late 2000s. Elements of the
clash include cultural differences between Feist's
German headquarters, which operates as a business, and
the U.S. institute, which, like the U.S. Green Building
Council, is a nonprofit group.
Feist and Klingenberg are both are known to be tireless
advocates of Passive House, and they are also both known
as difficult to work with. The U.S. schism is not the
first struggle Feist has had with PHI affiliates outside
of Germany. Klingenberg, meanwhile, has ruffled feathers
in U.S. green building circles with a personal style
that some have found blunt and remote.
Inspired by the superinsulated homebuilding movement
that took hold in the United States in the 1970s,
Wolfgang Feist and Swedish professor Bo Adamson came up
with the Passive House concept in the 1990s, creatively
applying accepted building physics methodology to
address ventilation, air quality, and mold problems that
had stymied the first generation of superinsulated
A Passive House-certified building — which can be
any kind of structure, not just a residence — uses
only about 10 percent of the energy needed to heat and
cool a conventional structure built to the 2009
International Energy Conservation Code. The huge energy
savings are achieved through an airtight building
envelope with heat-recovery ventilation, elimination of
thermal bridges, and lots of insulation.
With 90% energy energy savings over new buildings built
to code, the performance level of Passive House
buildings is currently unique among available green
building and energy certification systems in a very
Only Passive House buildings are required to perform
today at the energy efficiency levels that we can expect
for all buildings sometime around 2050 — in less
than 40 years.
Putting it another way, nearly every new building that
is built today to less than Passive House standards can
readily be predicted to become obsolete, in terms of
energy performance, in less than 40 years.
Built by Transformations, Inc., the Farmhouse II model home in Easthampton, Massachusetts, scores a near-net-zero 2 on the HERS energy rating index.
Best of Build Boston
by Evan H. Shu, FAIA
Build Boston, the largest regional conference and trade
show for the design and construction industry in the
United States, recently demonstrated again why it has
earned such preeminence.
More than 14,000 architects, designers, construction and facility managers, and owners attended the 27th Build Boston conference, hosted by the Boston Society of Architects in November 2011. The trade show floor boasted some 300 vendors — up 6% over last year — who plied their products with the usual vigor.
But it was the conference programs themselves that suggested the breadth, depth, and direction of the industry itself. Attendance at these sessions — consisting of over 150 workshops, presentations, meetings, and tours — rose over 10% from 2010 levels, suggesting that many design professionals are ready to move forward and invest in increasing their knowledge base for a new year they hope will be more productive.
Some key themes of the conference were energy efficiency, digital technology innovation, construction detailing, and new building codes.
In the last few years, the architecture, engineering, and construction industry has matured greatly in its production of energy-efficient buildings. More tried-and-true methods have been established that point toward making our buildings not just more efficient, but even able to reduce net energy use to zero, with some buildings going so far as to generate surplus electricity to feed back to the grid.
Cited in a number of seminars was a relatively new (2006) measurement tool established in the residential sector called the HERS Index, which stands for Home Energy Rating System. It was developed as a residential energy-use standard by the nonprofit Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET). The HERS Index is accepted by the U.S. federal government for programs such as tax incentives, rebates, and Energy Star ratings, and has been incorporated into uniform building codes and into a growing number of state building codes.
The HERS Index is relatively easy to understand. The reference point is an "American standard" new house, built to the standards of the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Such a home earns a HERS rating of 100. A net-zero-energy home scores a zero, while many homes would receive scores above 100. A house built to the 2009 IECC standard would be rated at 70, or at 65 if over 3,000 square feet (280 square meters).
Renzo Piano designed the new wing of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. The beautiful addition opens on Thursday, January 19, 2012.
People and Places
by Nancy Novitski
The new wing of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts, is scheduled to open to the public on January 19, 2012. Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the 70,000-square-foot (6,500-square-meter) addition provides purpose-built spaces for concerts, exhibits, and classes, along with enhanced visitor amenities. It is located behind the existing 57,000-square-foot (5,300-square-meter) museum building, built in 1901 along the Fenway. The design unveiling for the addition was covered in this column in January, 2010.
The new building features a transparent first floor of glass, above which four floating volumes, clad in pre-patinated copper and red brick, are organized on an axial circulation system. Visitors will enter the museum through a new entrance facing Evans Way Park into the glass-enclosed lobby. A three-story-tall special exhibition gallery features an adjustable ceiling, skylight, and north wall of glass.
The largest space in the new wing is Calderwood Hall, a cuboid, 300-seat music performance space designed in collaboration with acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata Acoustics. Adjacent to the main lobby, a working greenhouse with a sloped glass facade stands two stories tall, with two artist apartments on the second level. The new wing also houses conservation labs, an education studio, a gift shop, and a restaurant. ...
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Tools and Downloads
Glass Specification Tool
Walker Glass is proud to introduce the first three-part
specifications on acid-etched glass, mirror, and anti-slip
glass. These editable documents provide architects and designers
with a great tool for specifying acid-etched products in a more
Elevator Energy Calculator
ThyssenKrupp Elevator Americas has launched the 2.0 version of
its Energy Calculator, a free online tool for predicting the
energy consumption of elevators. Of interest to architects,
elevator consultants, facility managers, and building owners
involved in new construction and building modernization
IBM Researchers Make 12-Atom Magnetic Memory Bit - BBC, 2012.0113
Engineering Slimmer Solar Cells - Nature, 2012.0111
Software Speeds Up Construction - Boston Globe, 2012.0108
Nanoscale Wires Defy Quantum Predictions - Nature, 2012.0105
Product News - Clay Brick Permeable Paver
Pine Hall Brick offers the StormPave™ clay brick
paver for use in permeable paving systems. The pavers
allow water to drain between them thanks to large spacer
nibs, while joint openings are kept narrower than
one-half inch (1.3 centimeters) to comply with ADA
requirements. Strong, durable, and colorfast, the pavers
offer a high infiltration rate when installed in a "best
practice" permeable pavement system, and can contribute
to LEED credits. ...
See our comprehensive new visual catalog of architectural products, powered by DesignGuide!
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Art Nouveau is associated with what decades? How did the
Match each name with the architectural style it is
1. John Ruskin
2. Charles Bulfinch
3. Thomas Jefferson
4. McKim, Mead & White
5. Antoni Gaudí
6. James Renwick
F. Art Nouveau
Classic Home 030 — Full-porch Colonial by Whitman S. Wick
"This type of simple, economical Colonial house is favored where it is necessary to conserve the original investment. The house is of frame construction throughout, with wide siding and a chimney of brick. A broad porch extends the entire width of the front, and entrance is into a small hall from which a central staircase leads upward. Doors open to the right and left into the living room and dining room. An open fireplace is provided in the living room, with the additional feature of a small den.
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