Skip to content

Final Thoughts on the Class


Diagram of Design Futures

This is where I see architecture after taking this class.  We used to look at designing a building as an independent structure without any other inputs.  Lately we have seen the fields of technology and environmental thought expanding rapidly and becoming integrated into design.  Rather than focusing on one of these fields, we have started to use technology as a means of enhancing design that is more passive towards energy consumption and takes the environment more into consideration.

We have seen examples of individual buildings that do this but what’s exciting about the field and where we need to expand is the urban scale;  To design cities as systems of buildings that become integrated to one another.  We should use technology to allow our buildings to enhance the landscape rather than rely on it and create patterns of buildings that are thought out together with regards to their impact.


Assignment 5 – Climate Studies of PerFORUM


My studio project is called PerFORUM and aims to provide a venue for amateur Philadelphia perfomers interested in dance, music, and theater to practice and collaborate.  The design is driven by a procession of connecting gathering spaces used for interaction and performance.  This procession moves off the street into the central atrium, and eventually into the theater space which penetrates from the building.  The main building is composed of an informational mass and a production mass which have study spaces and rehearsal spaces respectively.  The two masses are connected by the large atrium space in which the monumental circulation takes place.

Site Context

Site Plan

These two diagrams show the site context and then the plan of circulation around the site.  These give you a sense of orientation and how the sun moves around the site.

Sketchy Idea of Exterior

 This shot gives you an idea of the exterior focused on the southwest corner.  It is a preliminary render though and much has changed in the design sense.

Transverse Section

This is a transverse section that diagrams solar and thermal conditions of the building.  In order to get light into the lower atrium during the winter months when the angle of the sun is low, a heliostat system is employed that follows the sun and reflects it down into the building.  The south facing rehearsal spaces are controlled with a double layer skin composed of a frosted glass grid and a metal grid.  These overlap to keep out the unwanted direct light, but allow for multiple lighting conditions come into the room. 

The regulated air is pumped enters the rooms at the outer edges and this allows for the air from the outside to have less of an effect.  The air then is drawn across the room and towards the open spaces in the center of the building, the atrium and the elevator core.  The air warms as it rises and the unwanted air is released at the top.
Theater Plan Detail

This diagram showcases the theater in detail.  The zoomed in section shows the how the skins are constructed.

Genzyme Section


Genzyme Section

This is a building section of the Genzyme Corporation by Benisch.  This section is interesting because it resembles the section of where my building was last week with two masses and a large atrium in between.  My design has changed some as the bridge across has become more independent from the performance mass but it’s nice to know that my design could have worked.

Talk About Glare


Glare coming at me

In lecture we had discussed different light qualities such as brightness, sparkle, and glare.  Glare is not a desirable quality and I get it every afternoon at my studio desk.  One of the lights atop the Culbreth Parking Garage has been disturbed and the glass cover now hangs down and swings in the wind.  Around 3:30 when the sun has passed by Campbell and is starting to set, it reaches the perfect angle to hit this glass.  When the wind blows the glass into the right direction and the sunlight is striking it, a vibrant beam of light reflects into Campbell.  It creates some cool flashes upon the walls but also tends to blind me at my desk.  It comes in flashes and my neighbor has watched me as I light up.  I wish I could capture the qualities of the light on the surfaces of the building without it vanishing instantly but I also wish this glare would stop hitting me right in the eyes.

Planta Solar


aerial view

Check out this solar farm in Seville, Spain.  The thousands of mirrors are focused on the tower and heat a huge water tank that produces steam power.  The PS10 tower is an example of thermal solar energy that might become a more efficient source of solar power compared to photoelectric solar power.

Solar Reflection

The beams are not always visible like this but the dust in the air made them so in this picture.

Bill Gates on Global Warming


I just read an interview in Rolling Stone with Bill Gates concerning his newfound interest in global warming.  It was interesting and promising because he is one of the richest men in the world and when his foundation gets behind a cause it has the power to do amazing things.  Gates is a radical consumer in the global warming conversation because he believes that energy consumption is a good thing.  He realizes that cutting our consumption levels is not really an option and raising the standard of living in other countries is a priority.  The third world is going to be affected by global warming the most and soonest so getting clean energy forms to develop these countries before disasters continue should be our number one goal.  We run on an economy where cheap energy is the basis and these countries should have that benefit too and we need to enable this with clean energy technologies.  The main issue we are facing is scale and individual consumption is not the problem but rather the development of the world is.

How do you go about solving this problem?  Gates is a huge proponent of research and development after doing it first hand in the IT industry.  He wants the goverment to vastly increase funding into energy R&D and pursue all innovative ideas rather than guessing now what the best option is and only funding that.  He doesn’t think clean coal is a viable option as it never can really be clean and storage of waste is a daunting task.  He also thinks that energy farms (wind and solar) can be great but they usually must be in remote environments and the transmission and storage of the energies make them not so efficient.  The energy form that Gates has personally been involved with funding is the re-invention of the nuclear power plant.  His approach is researching the traveling-wave reactor which uses waste uranium as fuel.  This takes a resource that would have been waste and utilizes it to make renewable energy.  The plants can be built anywhere which makes it a realistic and current option.  Many plants haved to be constructed and tested in order to make them economically viable and the safety issue still has to be made a top priority but in a couple decades he believes that nuclear could be our most reliable renewable energy source.

Auto X Car Competition

The VLC (Very Light Car) by Edison2

The Automotive X Competition just came to a close and the winner is the Very Light Car (VLC) by Edison2.  The contest was for car compenies to design a car that got at least 100 miles a gallon or the energy equivalent, still hold at least 4 people, and have a range of at least 200 miles.  The company also had to come up with a business plan for implementing the car into production so it wasn’t just a prototype competition in which the research doesn’t get utilized.

What is surprising about the winner is that it won an innovative car competition but still runs solely on gasoline.  Other cars in the competition were battery powered but the VLC outperformed them and is still a more practical car at this point.  The reality is that even when using battery power, the electricity has to come from somewhere and these energies may not be renewable either.  Until batteries become more efficient and producing renewable energy becomes more available we have to realize that the combustion engine is the most efficient and oil is still a necessary resource.
The design by Edison2 shows the move that car companies should make.  In order to make cars run more efficiently on gas we have to stop wanting cars that resemble boxes on wheels and use forms from the natural world.  The drag or wind resistance around a car can be greatly reduced if the car becomes more fish-like or teardrop shaped.  This means longer, gently sloping noses and a body that comes to a point in the rear.  This competition should open avenues into more efficient design in the automobile industry as well as others.