Noticias de Arquitectura

Form Follows Feathers: Bird-Friendly Architecture
enero 11, 2008, 4:47 am
Filed under: Arquitectura USA, Calatrava

January 10, 2008

By Ted Smalley Bowen

Santiago Calatrava’s 2,000-foot-tall Chicago Spire is a lofty experiment in bird-safe design. The residential skyscraper is rising in the midst of a large year-round bird population and in the path of a major migratory flyway on the shores of Lake Michigan, but its glass is designed to be visible to birds, which should help prevent fatal collisions.

An estimated 1 billion birds die annually in the United States as a result of striking buildings, bridges, and other manmade structures. Many factors play a role, including lights, vegetation, and water. But glass is the main culprit, according to bird-safe design guidelines released in 2007 by the New York City Audubon Society, the Chicago Birds & Buildings Forum, and the City of Toronto. Since birds don’t perceive conventionally formulated glass as a solid barrier, they fly into it. They may mistake reflections as continuous space and be attracted to trees or other objects in or visible through a glassed-in space.

The design guidelines are largely an appeal to enlightened self-interest, saving birds while reaping the financial benefits of green building. A number of cities are pushing bird-safe design, although mostly as a recommendation. Toronto may adopt green building requirements that include bird safety criteria, and in Manhattan the environmental impact statement for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center addresses bird safety. A handful of top designers have made it a priority, and the USGBC is beginning highlight it, but advocates note that it’s far from a mainstream design consideration.

The guidelines emphasize creating “visual noise,” i.e., patterns that birds can register. With glass, this means enhancing ultraviolet-reflectivity, color, texture, or opacity. Keeping openings small also helps ward off birds. Shading, brises soleil, colored and reflective solar blinds, or curtains also alert birds to buildings.

As LEED gains traction, establishing bird-safe design on the scorecard can give it more of a boost. “We want to enshrine bird-safe design in LEED as a proven innovation point, and we need legislation and mandates,” says Bruce Fowle, senior principal at FXFowle Architects in New York. “The immediate goal is to have bird-kill reduction identified as an option in the LEED reference manual.”

But green building is no guarantee of bird-safety. If not patterned, tinted, or used in small panes, low-e glass has a dangerously mirror-like quality and green roofs reflected on surrounding buildings can lure birds into walls. With its highly reflective windows and

nearby stand of trees, Emory University’s LEED-certified Mathematics and Science Center, designed by Cooper Carry and opened in 2002, decimated neo-tropical fall migrants. Officials were forced to drape netting over the building, according to chief environmental officer John Wegner, and bird safety has since been added to campus design criteria.

Bird safety is easier to sell when it overlaps with other green strategies, says Jeanne Gang, principal and founder of Studio Gang Architects, in Chicago. Her firm’s 26-story Solstice on the Park, in Chicago, uses angled glass, fritted glass, and visual cues to decrease bird strikes. “Slanted glass reduces solar heat gain but also works to effectively reduce bird injuries,” Gang explains. “Fritted glass reduces heat gain, and if it’s 50 percent, you can still see through it.”

Most birds can see ultraviolet light, which is invisible to humans, and in nature it often attracts birds, according to Daniel Klem, an ornithologist and biology professor at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. More tests are needed to see if birds avoid UV-reflective glass, he says, “but it would be the most elegant solution if it works.” The German manufacturer Isolar Glass already markets patterned, UV-reflective glass, and Guardian Global, of Auburn Hills, Michigan, expects to release a bird-safe line by 2009.

Installing glass that birds can see would be simpler than current options. “There’s no easy way to convince clients that they need dots every four inches or stripes or louvers or angled glass,” Fowle says. The New York Times Building, designed by FXFowle and Renzo Piano, uses thin horizontal ceramic tubing to form an external latticework that reduces heat gain and makes the building visible to birds.

While major cities located along migratory flyways get a lot of attention, they account for a comparatively small percentage of kills. The crucial next step, says New York City Audubon Society executive director Glenn Phillips, is “getting to the big designers of suburban and exurban buildings.”

Chicago architects win national award
enero 11, 2008, 4:45 am
Filed under: Arquitectura USA

Two projects by Chicago-area architects, the restoration of the Illinois Capitol chambers and a little-known home in Northfield that an architect designed for his own family, are among the winners of the American Institute of Architects’ honor awards, the profession’s highest recognition for individual projects, the institute has announced.

The state Capitol restoration, by Vinci/Hamp Architects of Chicago, and the single-family home, by Evanston-based architect Thomas Roszak, won honor awards for interior architecture. But there were no other Chicago award winners, which makes this something of an off year for a city that prides itself on being a leader in American design.

New York architect Steven Holl’s much-praised addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., won one of the awards in architecture, while the University of Arkansas Community Design Center pulled off a rare hat trick in regional and urban design, winning three of five honors.

Juries of architects and other designers selected 28 winners from more than 800 submissions. The awards were announced Monday.

In a news release, the Washington-based AIA said Vinci/Hamp’s restoration of the ornate state Capitol chambers re-established “significant architectural features” from the late 19th Century “while creating a functional setting for modern-day legislative activities.”

The firm is headed by partners John Vinci and Philip Hamp.

The big surprise, however, was Roszak’s sleekly modern, 8,200-square-foot house, which hasn’t been recognized in local design award programs, as the state Capitol restoration was last year. But the house was featured in Architectural Digest in 2005.

The house was designed, the AIA said, “to foster interaction among family members even while each person is engaged in different tasks in different rooms.”

Instead of a typical family room and living room, the house puts the kitchen alongside the children’s playroom and leaves “the entire first floor unenclosed and uses glass paneled walls to further its sense of unencumbered interaction,” the institute said.

Roszak’s firm, Roszak/ADC, specializes in the design, development and construction of residential buildings.

The University of Arkansas’ awards included plans for restoring natural habitats, creating an ecologically sensitive residential development and a rail transit plan for northwest Arkansas.

The winners will be recognized in May at the AIA national convention in Boston.

– Three years ago, when the Field Museum of Natural History mounted an exhibition on prefab housing, I wrote the following about the show: “It explodes the stereotype that prefab housing must be ugly, unimaginative and utterly lacking in a sense of place. Some of these houses look good enough to be exhibited in the architecture salon of the Museum of Modern Art.”

Well, the folks at MoMA are finally getting around to prefab, and they plan a big exhibition, “Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling,” that will run from July 20 to Oct. 20.

As part of the show, the museum has asked five relatively low-profile architects from the U.S. and Europe to design full-scale, prefab houses that will be displayed in an outdoor space to the west of the museum in midtown Manhattan. Kieran Timberlake Architects of Philadelphia are the best known of the bunch, but unless you’re a design buff, you probably haven’t heard of them.

The full-scale houses will be the stars of a larger show — principally organized by Barry Bergdoll, the museum’s chief curator of the department of architecture and design — that will cover 58 other projects in what is billed as “the most thorough examination to date of both the historic and contemporary significance of factory-produced architecture from 1833 to today.” The other projects will be displayed indoors.

Given MoMA’s tastemaking power and its location in the media capital in the world, the show could go a long way toward making prefab housing something more than just a glimmer in visionaries’ eyes. Or, if it’s merely about aesthetics and lacks specifics about costs and other nitty-gritty matters, it could forever taint prefab as a mere niche product.

– Pulitzer Prize-winning New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger will lecture at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Studies, 610 S. Michigan Ave., on contemporary Jewish architecture at 4 p.m. Jan. 27. Tickets cost $30, $25 for Spertus members.