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EVOLVING THE SOLAR HOUSE

By the end of the 1970s, a significant discourse emerged about the solar house's aesthetic problems and potentials. In numerous cases, solar architecture was treated as a historically emergent type with a secure and inevitable future. One example from 1978: — Published 2013.0605

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AIA GREEN TOP TEN

Located at the edge of Oakland, California's downtown Chinatown neighborhood, a colorful new affordable senior housing project transformed an abandoned site near a busy freeway into a community resource for disadvantaged and formerly homeless senior citizens while also exemplifying good universal and sustainable design.

The six-story Merritt Crossing Senior Apartments, designed by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, was certified at the Platinum level under a LEED for Homes Mid-Rise pilot program. — Published 2013.0424

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ART WATTS

In harnessing solar energy, the usual approach is to bolt an array of panels onto the roof of a building and plug it in. But recent advances such as building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) allow designers to incorporate solar cells seamlessly into a building's exterior.

Canadian glass artist Sarah Hall is taking this idea in a novel direction by using solar technology to create a striking contemporary version of stained glass that illuminates the aesthetic potential of PV. — Published 2012.0606

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DESIGN WITH ENTERPRISE

I wasn't always fascinated with architecture and design. I'm not an architect, but I have come to realize how important good design is as an ingredient to better human health and well-being. And how important business skills are to successful practice. — Published 2012.0425

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CREATIVE CONCRETE

When we think of sustainability, images of solar panels, thick insulation, and rainwater cisterns might come to mind. But Canadian architect and researcher Mark West is rethinking the bones of concrete structures to find ways to make them as efficient as possible.

West is director of the University of Manitoba's Centre for Architectural Structures and Technology (CAST), where the research revolves around fabric-formed concrete. The process uses pliable fabric to make innovative, efficient structural shapes. — Published 2012.0328

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GAP HOUSE, LONDON

Placed improbably between a pair of historical listed buildings, the contemporary facade of Gap House is a mere 2.4 meters (7.9 feet) wide. This new-build four-bedroom family home, winner of the RIBA Manser Medal for residential architecture, was designed by architect Luke Tozer of Pitman Tozer Architects for himself and his family. — Published 2012.0222

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AIA NATIONAL DESIGN AWARDS

Viewed at a distance from the southwest, 8 House looks almost like a strange landform: two vegetated roofs form a massive green "V" reaching from the ground-floor roof all the way to the top of the building, nine stories above.

The logic of this mixed-use building is better understood from a bird's-eye view. In concept, the plan is a 230-meter- (750-foot-) long loop that has been twisted to form a giant, angular figure eight. — Published 2012.0215

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BEST OF BUILD BOSTON

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. — Published 2012.0111

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HIGH-RISE SUSTAINABILITY

A high-level assessment of the impact of the urban tower on the natural environment would conclude that low land use and possible higher density are the chief advantages, with high energy usage being the chief disadvantage. Concepts of density and of energy usage are relative, and should be examined by comparing high-rise buildings with their low- or mid-rise alternatives. — Published 2012.0104

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SOLAR DECATHLON 2011

In the U.S. Department of Energy's recent Solar Decathlon, architecture and engineering students competed to build the most efficient, innovative, economical, and attractive home powered by the sun. — Published 2011.1012

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