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Renzo Piano’s California Academy of Sciences

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Your eyes sweep across the panorama. Rolling hills are bursting with colorful wildflowers of vivid orange, yellow, and purple. A Bay Checkerspot butterfly dances by in the flickering light reflected by what looks like a pond but is in fact a skylight of Renzo Piano’s California Academy of Sciences building. Piano worked with Academy scientists and a team of California professionals, including Stantec Architecture from San Francisco, to revitalize the California Academy of Sciences building, located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.

Structural Insulated Panels vs. Conventional Framing

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The all-inclusive, load-bearing design of structural insulated panels (SIPs) offers an energy-efficient, quiet alternative to conventional wood framing methods. In recent years, SIPs have increasingly grown in popularity as builders strive to provide more durable products, use more environmentally sustainable building methods, and reduce costs. According to AMA Research, SIPs are now the fastest growing new building method on the market.

Designing a NYC Icon: One Bryant Park / Bank of America Tower

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The first skyscraper in the United States to achieve LEED Platinum also utilized the principles of biophilia in its design, helping to bring the feeling of nature into the heart of New York City.

When One Bryant Park – also known as the Bank of America Tower – was completed in 2009, it became the second tallest structure in New York City (after the Empire State Building). It was also the first skyscraper in the United States to achieve LEED Platinum certification. The list of its energy-efficient and environmentally friendly features is impressive and has been much discussed.

Watts It Matter to You? Electricity Transmission

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As stated in Watts it Matter to You? Electricity Generation, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) assigned the United States’ ENERGY infrastructure a grade of “D+” on their 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. Electricity transmission, which is the second of three installments on energy, covers transmission lines and grid networks, “green” power transmission, and "smart" grids. Electricity distribution will be covered in installment three as we follow the path of electricity from a power generating facility to your home or business.

Bamboo Housing in Carabanchel by Foreign Office Architects (FOA)

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It’s official: architects are in love with bamboo. A tree-hugging designer’s dream, bamboo is an eco-friendly, versatile, and durable material. More importantly, bamboo is the fastest growing perennial on the planet, making it symbolically a perfect choice for a city like Madrid, with its ever growing population and, subsequently, its enormous need for public housing. Located in the Carabanchel district, a “regeneration area” on the outskirts of Madrid, Carabanchel Social Housing is a state-subsidized, five-story residential project with 100 units, covered with bamboo louvres. (The structure itself is not made of bamboo, but bamboo is very prominent in the primary architectural statement it makes, due to the louvers.) Foreign Office Architects (FOA) credit Farshid Moussavi, Alejandro Zaera Polo, and others at FOA for Carabanchel Social Housing’s innovative design, which merges an environmentally conscious model with the social urbanization needs of the 21st century. One of the largest social housing projects in Europe, it was completed in late 2007.

Libeskind’s Extension to the Denver Art Museum

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The Denver Art Museum may well be the most prominent expression of Denver’s cultural heart. Daniel Libeskind’s 146,000 sq. ft. extension to the museum, The Frederic C. Hamilton Building, was a joint venture with the Davis Partnership and houses Modern, Contemporary, Oceanic, and African Art collections. The original museum, which opened in 1971, was Italian architect Gio Ponti’s first American commission and boasted an exterior of Italian tile and the innovation of stacking its galleries vertically, which sought to combat the “museum fatigue” that resulted from traversing the long horizontal layout typical of museums at the time.

ROI Behind Geothermal Systems

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As the green building movement begins to hit its stride, geothermal systems are quickly gaining prominence as efficient and attractive choices for projects featuring alternative energy. Although fewer subsidies for geothermal systems are available when compared to solar, the initial investment for the installation of a geothermal system can be lower. This makes a geothermal system’s return on investment (ROI) extremely favorable. It is this financial analysis that may lead to the inclusion of geothermal systems in more building projects as its awareness grows.

New York City Revitalizes the Life Between Buildings

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(Thanks in part to Gehl Architects)

Over the past decade or so, New York City has been making dramatic improvements that emphasize the quality of life on the street, urban vitality, and sustainability. This is a most welcome shift that is part of a most welcome sea change. Specifically, the city has been carving out more spaces for pedestrians, bicycles, public transit, public gathering, and parks. New York City has no lack of pedestrians, and these improvements invite more. Planting a million trees and creating 200 miles of bike lanes are certainly New York City-sized moves. Like many cities, New York City is correcting the problems created by modernist planning and the predominance of the automobile, including damage to ordinary life for people on the street, where valuable urban vitality was traded for more lanes of traffic and parking lots.

Glass Block Windows – 5 Steps for Installation Success

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How to Install a Kitchen Faucet

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Installing or replacing a kitchen faucet is a job any homeowner can do. As with any home improvement project, a little planning to ensure that you have the proper faucet type and the right tools on hand will make for a smooth job.

Patrick Blanc’s Vertical Garden in Madrid

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There are two common sayings about Madrid -- “Madrid me mata” ("Madrid kills me") and “De Madrid al cielo” ("From Madrid to Heaven"). Both adages are appropriate ways to describe Madrid’s polarization between the calm and the chaotic. From the city’s breakneck traffic to its streets filled with animated Madrileños, rosemary-laden gypsies, and gawking tourists, the city of Madrid moves at a nauseating rhythm. Somewhere, deep within this traditional chaos, it’s possible to find hidden corners of both modernization and tranquility. Strolling along the Paseo de Prado’s tree-lined avenue, you will come across Patrick Blanc’s vertical garden lurking in one of these corners.

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