Modernist Houses Galore! [visual candy for architects]

candyDo you like modern architecture?  Is Frank Lloyd Wright someone you wish you could have met?

If so, then you’ll want to check out the new “Masters Gallery” of the North Carolina Modernist Houses (NCMH) group.  With changes and additions announced this week, it’s Gallery is America’s largest open digital archive of Modernist houses, as well as the internationally known Modernist architects who designed them.

Currently, the Gallery showcases over 30 architects with extensive house histories and over 10,000 photos.  The Gallery is extensive and searchable and includes, among many other notables, Frank Gehry and, of course, Frank Lloyd Wright.

To view the NCMH Masters Gallery, go to http://www.ncmodernist.org/ and click on “Masters Gallery” under the Archives listing.   Be careful, though, because NCMH founder and director George Smart, you can spend many addictive hours looking around.  Hey, at least this addiction doesn’t require a trip to the gym afterwords!

 Photo courtesy WikiMedia Commons.

5 Impressive Construction Projects in North Carolina

What are your top construction building projects in North Carolina?  Do you have a “short list”?  Author Ralitsa Golemanova of JW Surety Bonds does, and she has the reasoning behind them. Ralista’s Top 5, which all “present a different facet of exceptional modern design and construction” are presented below. 

Her list, in no particular order, includes:

art museum1.  The North Carolina Museum of Art’s West Building Expansion

The 127,000 square-feet West Building Expansion of the North Carolina Museum of Arts won the 2011 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Honor Award for Architecture.   The Building is largely made of aluminum panels. One of its specificities is that it does not have any windows. Instead, visibility is ensured through 360 skylights that allow delicate natural light to enter the inner galleries.

2.  The Bank of America Corporate Center in Charlotte

The skyscraper is 871 feet tall and was completed in 1992, is allegedly the tallest building between Atlanta and Philadelphia, and can be seen from 35 miles away.

3.  The Bell Tower Development project at UNC-Chapel Hill

The huge $175 million Bell Tower Development includes a 710 car parking deck, a 25 thousand-ton chilled water plant, a new Genome Science Laboratory Building which will provide approximately 210,000 square feet of  modern classrooms, laboratories and offices including nine wet labs, four bioinformatics labs, a 250 seat lecture hall, a 450 seat lecture hall, an 80 seat classroom, and four 30 seat seminar rooms.

4.  The Biomanufacturing Research Institute & Technology Enterprise (BRITE) at NC Central

The BRITE construction was a $17.8 million endeavor, which is spread out over 59,900 square feet and complements the existing science buildings.  The project includes a four-story 65,000 square foot building to provide hands-on learning experiences for biotechnology students.

Hunt library5.  The James B. Hunt, Jr. Library at NC State

Priced at $93.75 million, the 221,122 square feet library  is designed with maximized light and views of nature in mind.  With its LEED Silver certification, it provides natural heating and cooling, as well as usage of rainwater with the help of green roofs and rain gardens.

What about you?  Do you have a list of favorites??  Share in the comment section of the blog.

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Photos of Art Museum and Hunt Library both courtesty of Wikipedia via cc.

Home insurance perks for green-friendly design (guest post)

house and moneyWondering how to get your residential clients to pony up more money for green design?  Check out today’s guest post by Carrie Van Brunt-Wiley and Katherine Wood.  They are writers for the Homeowners’ Insurance Blog, which serves as a resource center for insurance consumers and homebuyers across the country.

The U.S. Green Building Council’s new LEEDv4 standards present challenges for contractors, engineers, and architects – the restrictions in many cases are more stringent. There is, however an added bonus to remaining on the sustainable-building track: it’s more marketable than you think.

That’s because green homes don’t just appeal to buyers with environmental concerns any more. Now smart budgeters seek them out as well. Why? While it’s true that sustainable construction can cost about 2% more than conventional methods, McGraw-Hill’s Smart Market Report says it typically increases a building’s overall value by an average of 7.5% and improves the return on investment by 6.6%.

In fact, 80% of Generation Y homebuyers said in 2012 that they prefer energy-efficient homes, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Buying both green and new not only can save your clients on utilities costs, it also can reduce their home insurance premiums.

Pitching the insurance angle

Rightly or wrongly, the insurance industry isn’t known for innovation. However, it is embracing sustainability. Why? Americans experienced $52.9 billion in insured property losses in 2012 – $30 billion more than the average annual losses from 2001 to 2011. For more than two decades, the home insurance industry has quietly monitored climate change and its impact on the weather, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Many providers now are committed to being more visibly sustainable in their own practices and extending their concerns to the business of insuring residential, commercial, industrial, and other buildings. Why? Because environmentally friendly construction, using updated materials and systems, typically proves to be more durable – and less likely to result in huge insurance claims.  If you already participate in these green building practices, use them to your advantage by mentioning how much clients could save.

Some environmentally friendly features that can earn your clients savings:

  • Buying new: Homebuyers typically can earn a home insurance discount (usually around 10%) when they buy a house built within the last 10 years. New homes normally prove more energy efficient as well.
  • Sustainable roof: As much as 95% of wind and water related losses to the home involve roof      damage, according to the Insurance Information Institute (iii). That’s a big deal when the average loss resulting from wind or water damage adds up to more than $6,000.

Homeowners insurance providers offer lower premiums to homes with roofs made of more durable, sustainable materials such as steel and aluminum. These roofs can save on energy efficiency, and they also can better withstand wind, rain, and hail. If your designs include these roofs you can use these expected insurance savings figures when marketing to your clients.

  • Efficient plumbing and fixtures: About one quarter of home claims in the U.S. are caused by water damage, with the average claim exceeding $7,000. By designing updated, green friendly plumbing, you can save your clients a huge mess both physically and monetarily.
  • Electrical system:      Each year, 19,000 to 25,000 fires in the U.S. involve electrical wiring or lighting equipment, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Outdated electrical systems and wiring present significantly more fire risk. The average cost of a house fire claim is more than $33,000, so buyers could qualify for lower premiums when the home includes modern wiring and circuit-breakers. New systems also are more energy efficient so they can save the client more money in utilities.
  • HVAC: Malfunctioning heating and cooling systems are the second-leading cause of house fires in the U.S. (after cooking). Newer, more efficient systems involve less risk and therefore can save your clients money in insurance premiums.

Twice the advantage

When practices you already use in your everyday work can provide you with an extra client selling point, why not take advantage? Use home insurance and utilities perks to help you sweeten the deal for your residential clients. If your work includes security systems, fire safety sprinklers, or smoke detectors, you also can alert them of additional home insurance discounts for those features. Now it can be satisfying both morally and monetarily to be environmentally friendly.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions?  Share in the comment section, below.

Picture via Flickr/401k2013 thru CC license.

 

The Old Defeats the New (Usefulness of LEED?) (News Note)

Last week, I mentioned the renewal of the tax credits for wind energy.  Another report which came across my desk recently is one from SustainableBusiness.com, in which it is reported that some (although certainly not all) of New York City’s oldest buildings are out-performing LEED-certified buildings.7 World Trade Center

The magazine compares the new 7 World Trade Center, a LEED-Gold certified project, to the 1930s-era Chrysler Building, which is more energy efficient.  The 7 World Trade Center building has an Energy Star score of 74, while the Chrysler building scores 84 (in part due to extensive efficiency upgrades).

The cited reasons include thicker walls, fewer windows and less ventilation in the older buildings, as well as the fact that LEED-certified buildings look at other environmental features, such as the kinds of materials used and recycled, water systems, and proximity to public transportation.

Does this surprise you?  Are you a critic of the LEED process or an advocate?  Share your thoughts below.

Photo (c) davidlat

Engineering for the Earthquake- Dumbarton Bridge (News Note)

Engineers who design in earthquake-prone areas know that they need to design the seismic loads of their bridges to account for potential massive shifts during a quake.  (This is what is legally known as the professional standard of care, which takes into account what similar engineers, in the same conditions and community, would consider acceptable design)**.  The Dumbarton Bridge, the farthest south bridge across the San Francisco Bay, is no exception to this rule.

Currently, the Dumbarton Bridge is being renovated as part of the San Francisco Bay Area Toll Bridge Seismic Retrofit Program.  When the bridge is finished (expected in early 2013), the bridge will increase its ability to move from 20 inches of lateral movement to as much as 42 inches of lateral movement.

Dumbarton BridgeThe retrofit includes friction pendulum bearings designed by Earthquake Protection  Systems, Inc., which will isolate the superstructure from two pier structures where the main span of the bridge meets the approach structures.  A concrete taper will be used from the joints to the main span to ease the transition, as the approach span is 5 inches lower than the main span.

According to Earthquake Protection Systems president Victor Zayas, in a statement to Roads & Bridges magazine, the most critical part of the bearing is the bottom lining, which is a self-sacrificing, solid-lubricant polymer composite that was developed based on earlier research done by NASA in the 1960s.

Click here to read more on the Dumbarton Bridge retrofit.

**  If you missed my post on the jury instruction on standard of care, be sure to check it out here.

 

Photo (c) Jill Clardy via CC.

 

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