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Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category

Green Home Design

In Architecture, Green Home Design, LEED, Sustainable on July 26, 2010 at 2:16 pm

This post kicks off a series of posts centered around the design of a theoretical green/sustainable home in Chicago.  The house will have enough room for a typical family with 3 beds and 2 baths and 1,200 to 1,4000 square feet.  My intent in posting these sketches is to chronicle the design process and to hopefully gain feedback from all of you.  I have high hopes of eventually modeling the entire home in Revit, but we’re a long way from the 3D computer modeling stage!

I have yet to settle on which sustainable design standard – LEED, Living Building Challenge, Passive House, etc – that I am going to follow.  In reality, it will probably end up being a mix of all three systems rather than a strict adherence to one over the other.  In my opinion, LEED is a great sustainability checklist, but does little to inspire great designs.  The Living Building Challenge (essentially LEED on steroids) has much stricter standards than LEED, though some aspects seem impractical or cost-prohibitive.  I’ve been reading more about how Passive House is gaining ground in the US, but I am admittedly uneducated on the specifics of the system (but I did just order a book about it, so stay tuned!).

The house will be designed with the following broader concepts in mind:

  • Affordability
    • Using economical design, construction & material choices and avoiding overly complex design compositions
  • Sustainability
    • Native landscaping, solar orientation, energy efficiency, thermal mass, indoor air quality, water efficiency, material sourcing, etc
  • Beauty
    • Meaning and beauty in architecture ensure building stewardship and reinforce sustainability

As of this moment, I have no idea where this design process will take me, but I am certainly looking forward to the ride.  It will be interesting to see how the successive drawings, sketches and your input inform the final product.  Feel free to comment on anything about the project going forward.  I’ve attached a few preliminary sketches, though the final product will undoubtedly look entirely different from what you see here!

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Is the Pedway the Right Way?

In Architecture, Urbanism on July 7, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Designing systems for buildings, people and vehicles to coexist in a busy downtown like Chicago is a great opportunity for innovation and creativity in design.  The above pedway crossing over South Water Street just East of Michigan Avenue in Chicago satisfies all of these requirements quite well.  The design allows vehicular traffic to pass underneath the pedway, pedestrian traffic to flow above the traffic, and the entire structure in turn serves as the base and public plaza of the Mies van der Rohe office building above.  The perspective here illustrates one of the several entrances to the pedway on the left.

The Loop has its fair share of under and above ground pedestrian pathways intended to provide shelter to users while taking full advantage of the captive audience with shops, restaurants and business dotting the way.  Interestingly, from an urban design standpoint, the pedway itself is difficult to successfully design in city centers that are not as busy as Chicago.  They essentially divert people from the street level businesses that rely on foot traffic.  Also, in today’s car-dominated society, giving further speed and prominence to vehicular traffic in city centers can make the few pedestrians on the street feel uneasy about strolling through a potentially hazardous downtown.

Despite these common pitfalls, this pedway seems to allow pedestrians, vehicles and the surrounding buildings to coexist creatively.

Millennium Park Monument

In Architecture, Classicisim, Millennium Park, Urbanism on July 1, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Today I was searching for a good place to plop down & sketch when the sound of a big / Frank Sinatra style band drew me into the Southeast corner of Millennium Park.  Millennium Park houses monuments that are traditional and classical and also has fun, modern sculptures like the Bean.  Positioned between busy Randolph street and the bluesy band lies a monument dedicated to the founders of Millennium Park, the subject of today’s post.

I’ve always had an affinity towards monuments because they are inherently standalone works of art that encapsulate an emotion ranging from celebration to reverence to remembrance.  The founder’s monument, architecturally speaking, is a limestone Roman Doric colonnade arranged in a half circle around a central fountain that also serves as seating.  The choice of Roman Doric speaks to the classical nature of other portions of Millennium Park (not to mention Chicago in general) and also has an interesting dialog with the giant Ionic columns of the former public library now Chicago Cultural Center across the street.

From an urban design standpoint, the monument serves several functions: barrier, focal point, space definition and vertical circulation.  First, as I mentioned earlier, it provides a barrier to the vehicular traffic immediately behind it.  Perhaps most importantly, the monument shapes the surrounding natural landscape into an orderly composition.   It also provides a focal point and is a great spot for tourists to snap a picture or two.  Additionally, a ramp hidden behind the monument allows access to the next terrace level of Millennium Park.

Millennium Park is a great spot for summer lunches in Chicago, and I’m sure future posts will feature other elements of the massive park.

Understated Classicism on Michigan Ave

In Architecture, Classicisim on June 30, 2010 at 1:43 pm

This sketch represents the first ever Lunchtime Sketchbook installment!

Today at lunch I sketched a building that I’ve walked past a few hundred times but never really taken notice of before.  The building sits just north of Randolph on Michigan Ave which makes it one of the busiest intersections in Chicago.

Despite the towering structures all around, this building evokes a peaceful feeling in an increasingly hectic area through scale, simplicity and natural materials (red brick & limestone).  The building is divided into 3 portions: base, middle and top.

The stone base appropriately represents the structural integrity of being the “foundation” of the building.  The entrance is clearly marked by the double-height stone archway adjacent to the long storefront window.  The middle portion varies its window articulation from curved to angular pediments.  The top story is marked by four Tuscan columns dividing three arched windows.  A balustrade completes the composition at its peak.

If you find yourself wandering around the Taste of Chicago this weekend, take a second and check out this building.