Design News

Biomimicry: Taking Cues from Nature

Written by

The ultimate in green design is nature itself. Here, experts explain the concept of biomimicry and give examples of how buildings can take inspiration from natural systems.

If the past 3.8 billion years have taught us anything, it’s that nature knows best. The field of biomimicry is built upon this premise, drawing inspiration from nature’s systems and processes to find solutions for human needs: “innovation inspired by nature.” The implications of biomimicry for the field of architecture could alter the way we design, the materials we choose, and ultimately even the forms of our buildings.

Barcelona’s Santa Caterina Market

Written by

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.

Biophilia: Our Affinity for Nature Can Help Us to Transform Our Living Spaces

Written by

What is it that makes a person like a building? Beyond simple differences in individual taste, scientists are identifying biologically based responses that determine our preferences.

Green design can mean many things. Even the most structured green building rating systems reflect this fact. At their most encompassing, rating systems can include far reaching social and cultural goals; at their most pragmatic, these systems still emphasize the importance of environmental quality for the end user. However, this type of imprecise consideration is often overshadowed by components that are more measurable, such as energy-efficient heating and cooling systems or water usage.

Energy and Sustainability on Campus: Making the Grade

Written by

American universities have committed to greening their campuses. Three institutions — the University of Michigan, the University of California, and University of Pennsylvania — share their experiences.

Whenever you flip a light switch or adjust a thermostat at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, you’re unwittingly interacting with Henry "Hank" Baier, or at least with his department. Baier, Associate Vice President for Campus Facilities and Operations, oversees a city-size infrastructure supporting 80,000 students, faculty, and staff on a 3,200 acre campus with 500 major buildings, including 150 health clinics, three hospitals, two golf courses, and “The Big House,” also known as Michigan Stadium, the largest sports arena in the United States. As Baier sees it, “Energy is the lifeblood of our competitive society.” And by extension, the lifeblood of the university. “Our energy consumption and environmental footprint has become more important at the University of Michigan, because it’s become more and more important to our students and faculty,” says Baier. It’s become more costly, too; Baier’s campus devours $155 million energy dollars every year, meaning the concept of sustainability has become a fiscal necessity as well as an environmental imperative.

Contractor Selection Moves Beyond the Low Bid

Written by

Two large-scale construction projects, one an interdisciplinary research building on the University of Colorado campus and the other a new arena located in Lincoln, Nebraska, shift away from awarding contracts based solely upon lowest bid.

Many business-as-usual practices within the building industry are being rethought. Among them is the practice of automatically awarding a contract to the lowest bidder. It is becoming more common for clients, architects, and general contractors to team up early and work closely together for the good of the client, the project, and the project’s end users. Such is the case for the Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biotechnology, with a new building on the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder that was designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, and for the new Haymarket Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Green Education: Preparing for Careers in the 21st Century

Written by

As green career opportunities continue to grow, schools and universities are starting to offer a variety of educational options, from certification and training programs to advanced degrees.

So much emphasis in today’s world is on environmental sustainability and green technology. As more and more employers are becoming green-conscious, careers in the field of environmental policy, environmental sustainability, law and management are on the rise.

From Lady Gaga to High-Tech Architecture, a BOFFO Installation Spans the Gap

Written by

Gage/Clemenceau Architects, whose work often combines architecture with emerging technologies, designed a temporary installation for BOFFO, a non-profit organization whose stated mission is to “foster collaborations between artists, designers, communities, theorists, and the media in the exploration of contemporary subject matter that inform and educate the public, through innovative, participatory programming.”

Universities and Their Communities: The Town and Gown Relationship

Written by

As the well known John Donne poem "Meditation XVII" states, "No man is an island." Neither are colleges and universities. Long gone are the days when an institution of higher learning could operate without considering the surrounding community. University presidents now understand that the success of their institutions depends on the health of their cities and towns. The “town and gown” relationship has not always been a healthy one in many communities, but it has improved significantly in recent years as competition for students and faculty has increased. When these relationships work well, they can have a tremendous impact on the community and university.

Looking at University Initiatives in Sustainability

Written by

As Harvard University celebrates the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification of 50 campus buildings, the world of higher education has come just a bit closer to embracing a sustainable future. This well known institution is the first to incorporate such a large number of certified new and existing buildings into the fabric of its campus. An additional 39 buildings are currently being planned or awaiting certification as well. The current spread of certified buildings covers a total of 1.5 million sq. ft. and will reach over 4 million sq. ft. when all plans are carried through to completion. Anyone familiar with the LEED certification process understands that this framework includes a set of regulatory measures that incorporate building performance, energy standards, building materials, and operation and maintenance practices through a rigorous assessment process requiring an incredible amount of planning and critique.

Calatrava's Dallas: The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge

Written by

Very much in keeping with Dallas' official “Live Large, Think Big” slogan comes a wonderful urban expression of the exuberance of this huge Texas city. The 400'-high Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge (MHH Bridge), designed by Santiago Calatrava, will span the Trinity River, connecting Dallas to West Dallas, and is expected to be complete in the spring of 2012, after 14 years of planning, design, budget cuts, redesign, and construction. The Trinity River Corridor Project, backed by a $245 million bond passed by Dallas voters in 2005, brought Calatrava to town to design three bridges over the Trinity River. Calatrava's bridges will provide an architectural signature for the Trinity River Corridor Project and hopefully will become a symbol of Dallas, nationally and internationally.

Page 4 of 14