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Insulated Siding, Part 1

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Installing insulated siding on an older home may be the best way to up its R-value.

My first encounter with insulated siding (or IS as it’s known in the trades) came while visiting the Raritan Inn, a bed-and-breakfast in New Jersey that was remodeled by a pioneer in energy-efficient and innovative "green" construction, Bill Asdal. The Raritan Inn serves as a research center and a showpiece of deep-energy remodeling. In 2003, Asdal, in partnership with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) Research Center, pioneered the first net-zero energy remodeling project in the United States. The structure was clad with insulated siding in an effort to achieve the highest R-values possible within the limits of remodeling an 18th century structure. What I noticed was not the R-value but the aesthetic quality. The siding had a clapboard profile and it lay flat, lacking the usual telling concave cup of most vinyl siding.

DR Byen (DR City)

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Danish Broadcasting Corporation’s (DR's) new headquarters gathers all of their activities into one very large and diverse facility. Almost 10 years after the first competition, the inauguration of the Concert Hall (Koncerthuset) marks the completion of the new headquarters, aptly named DR Byen (DR City).

House of the Month: Green Desert Home

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Ana Escalante’s Greenbaum Residence

Snuggled into a delightful desert spot in Rancho Mirage, California, Architect Ana Escalante, founder of Escalante Architects, introduces an unpretentious home whose brilliant, sustainable design mimics how nature reconciles cozy shelters. In fact, one may wonder where the desert’s landscape stops and the house begins. Escalante draws from ecological ideas such as passive solar ventilation and cooling that offer her client an organic home that breathes resources back into nature.

The Project: A Carbon-Neutral Footprint

The client, Robert Greenbaum, is a film producer with very strong green initiatives for his home and lifestyle as well. He commissioned Escalante as his architect with two parameters: a carbon-neutral footprint and a lap swimming pool. Incorporating a lap swimming pool within a three-bedroom house on a tight site was Escalante’s first hurdle. “Before I went to the drawing boards, I met again with Greenbaum in a plea for him to reconsider the size of the swimming pool,” says Escalante. "Quite adamant, he insisted that his life faithfully centers on swimming daily for hours, often up to five miles per day."

Barcelona’s Santa Caterina Market

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This renovation of a market in Spain preserved more than just a historic building. Restoring the Santa Caterina Market's prominence as a commercial venue has helped to preserve a traditional way of life.

Very few countries are better than Spain at taking the old and transforming it into the new. Currently, this trend has found a new focus – the neighborhood market. Before the chain supermarkets or giant shopping centers began to eat up every available space in town, every neighborhood had its local market. These old (and usually somewhat decrepit) markets have suffered years of neglect and seen hard economic times for private vendors. Now these almost abandoned markets are ripe for the picking, and architects and designers alike are vying for a chance to get their hands on the vast open space that is typical of these buildings.

Barcelona’s Forum by Herzog & de Meuron

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Beset by problems early on, Herzog and de Meuron's Barcelona Forum building has become an admired work of architecture as well as a destination spot, situated as it is next to a busy convention area.

Let’s face it – it’s not easy to stand out architecturally in Barcelona. The city’s architecture portfolio includes some of the most diverse and historical architectural projects in the world. Antoni Gaudí’s exquisite creations, like the Sagrada Família, Casa Batlló, and Casa Milà, have firmly established Barcelona’s reputation as an architectural haven. However, it’s not all Modernisme and Gothic revival in this Mediterranean coastal city. In fact, Barcelona’s 21st century architecture has been making its mark on the city’s impressive architectural scene for years.

BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group)'s 8Tallet

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8Tallet, by BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), has one of the world's largest green roofs and was designed to function as a complete community rather than an apartment building. Learn more about this cool building in one of the world's most environmentally progressive cities, Copenhagen.

Madrid’s Cuatro Torres (Four Towers)

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2010 was a rollercoaster year for Spain. Hit hard by the economic crisis, a real estate implosion, and a surging unemployment rate, the country just couldn’t seem to catch a break. However, in this bleak economic landscape, one sign of promising growth stands out. The Torre Sacyr Vallehermoso building has reached 100% capacity for the first time since its completion in 2007. The Torre Sacyr Vallehermoso is one of the so-called “Four Towers” belonging to Madrid’s new Cuatro Torres Business Area, the brainchild of Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón.

Spaceport America: High Performance Construction in the New Mexican Desert

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It seems totally appropriate that the Mesilla Valley in Southern New Mexico is the site of one of the world’s most exciting feats of modern human exploration. Ever since the 1500s when Spanish Conquistadors scouted this beautiful valley along the Rio Grande River, this enchanted territory has seen travelers, traders, and tourists pass through its hostile reaches in search of better lives and new horizons. In the past, the Mesilla Valley was a place to pass through along the historic Camino Real for travelers on the trade route from Mexico City to Santa Fe. In the future, however, it will be an exciting destination, with the development of Spaceport America, the world’s first private spaceport.

Adaptive Reuse: Green Space as a Tool for Neighborhood Revitalization

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For many reasons, adaptive reuse projects are great for the environment. Using already existing buildings instead of building new reduces waste, requires less energy, and scales down the general consumption of materials. This green space has farther reaching effects, particularly fostering a greater sense of community and neighborhood revitalization. We talked with Alan Pullman of architectural firm Studio One Eleven about a recent adaptive reuse project located in an emerging Long Beach, California, neighborhood.

DIY Medicine Cabinet

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Sometimes it is the materials that inspire the project. Here Rachael Ranney, host of {Re}habitat, finds the perfect use for a long-cherished wooden picture frame.

Part of the charm and allure of DIY design is that you can rely on your own creativity and intuition to transform items you already own into unique décor and furniture for your home. These pieces are the ones that truly reflect your personal style, and you can usually save a little cash by constructing them yourself at home versus buying everything prebuilt.

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