Scheduled to open for the Spring 2020 semester, Rice’s newest academic building nears completion with the installation of the façade’s fins, which provide solar control for the curtain wall, and the courtyard’s River Birch trees, further forming this space as the new heart of campus. The Kraft Hall for Social Sciences combines multiple academic departments and research institutions within one building to serve the largest section of the University’s undergraduate population while also offering professional, masters, and Ph.D. programs. The architecture and programming simultaneously respect the existing campus context and as well as the need to look ahead. Centered around outdoor spaces that encourage collaboration and linked to a future planned axis that will connect the campus and Houston community, the architecture brings forward a new concept for a Rice building. Materials and detailing are presented at a human scale on the ground level and a multi-story curtainwall above wraps faculty, students and researchers in abundant daylight. A diagonal cut through the ground floor plan recognizes the movement of students and faculty from the traditional campus axis to the new South Axis.
We are currently in the peak of hurricane season, the New St. Pete Pier design is aligned with one of Climate Week’s categories, Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Change. The new resilient structure, which sits 11.5 feet above sea level to meet the new 100-year flood plain requirements, is designed to withstand 155 mph winds and severe storms that has a 1% chance of hitting on any given year. The Pier also integrates ecologically significant components that offer visitors a close-up glimpse of southwest Florida’s most critical coastal upland and marine habitats. While coastal development has severely diminished vital marine resources, the Pier not only preserves existing resources, but will enhance habitats through creative environmentally engineered solutions. The project occupies a minimal footprint within the waters of Tampa Bay, just 5.21 acres. In consideration of the existing sensitive marine resources, the New St. Pete Pier will include pervious decking and landscaped areas in addition to a concrete deck surface and a new reef structure containing native lime rock and oyster reef sections will dampen erosional effects of wave action and provide habitat.
An important Climate Week NYC 2019 issue focuses on Industry Transitions; exploring innovations that involve cleaner energy sources like clean hydrogen, renewables, biofuels, synthetic fuels along with strategies for carbon capture, storage, and use. Through sustainable design, construction method innovations, and the debate between new construction vs renovation the A/E/C Industry has a direct impact on the environment with each completed project. Designed to be cleaner and more efficient than traditional factories, a new manufacturing and research facility to be built for Nanotronics in a 150-year old building at the Brooklyn Navy Yard will be the City’s first “smart factory”. The adaptive re-use on legacy infrastructure greatly reduces carbon footprint. While the construction of the main shell for a similarly sized facility would result in approximately 1,971 metric tons of embodied CO2, the newly constructed portion of the project is estimated to embody approximately 425 metric tons on CO2. The design incorporates sustainably manufactured Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) construction for the new interior portion, where the CLT operates as a carbon sink, storing an estimated value of 411.2 metric tons of CO2, effectively offsetting the new construction’s emissions.
The design industry is intricately imbedded in Climate Week NYC’s initiatives, most specifically the programs and issues focusing on resilience and adaptation, health and wellbeing, and energy transition. Balancing the need for spaces that promote wellbeing with the realities of Climate Change, Rogers Partners is working on a master plan for Stewart Beach Park in Galveston, Texas to offer new, resilient structures and amenities. Elevated 22 feet above the FEMA base flood elevation, these new structures are being designed for a 75-year lifespan with materials that will endure the harsh climactic conditions of the coast as well as the impact from anticipated severe storms. Referencing the Texas vernacular, these structures also employ passive ventilation methods, wherever possible, to reduce energy demands. Environmental education is woven into the experience with displays that tell the story of dune systems and barrier island ecology.
Climate week 2019 focuses on 11 core themes to promote action and urgency. Our Syracuse University Energy Campus project embodies several of these important themes, demonstrating an expanded vision of sustainability that considers energy production and consumption alongside community health and development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the future. A National Model – from regional grids to local energy producers, waste heat to productive urban agriculture, fenced industrial sites to permeable energy campuses, the status quo to a thriving research center, this project is a visionary example for a new American Energy Landscape. Energy Dependence to energy autonomy – the campus promotes local, responsible energy production, limiting the stress on regional grids and reducing the effects of blackouts and the energy spent on transmission distances. Public health, safety, and outreach – Combatting the phenomenon of urban food deserts, a community grocery store, teaching kitchens, and a farmer’s market help ameliorate public health concerns while also activating the street. By channeling waste heat into new rooftop Greenhouses, the University can provide local, year-round food production and urban agriculture research. Site sustainability – Rainwater is collected and reused in the greenhouses and in the building’s gray water system, limiting runoff and reducing local sewer overflow, and green roofs, landscaping, pervious pavement, and light-colored roofs reduce the heat island effect. Beyond preserving local heritage in the built environment and reinforcing a sense of place, repurposing existing structures is, in itself, a critical aspect of a new and necessary culture of sustainability in the built environment.
Climate week NYC has become “the time and place for the world to showcase amazing climate action and discuss how to do more”. Taking place alongside the UN General Assembly, this annual event merges industries and sectors and brings together representatives, advocates, and experts from across the globe to share the successes and discuss the challenges facing every community. This year’s program focuses on “Stepping up to the Challenge of the Next Decade”, emphasizing unity, progress, and innovation and stressing the urgency of the topic. Rogers Partners is at the forefront of the discussion and is committed to developing solutions through large design interventions, as well as ensuring each project achieves top sustainability goals and integrates vital resiliency measures. Following the flooding of Houston just last week, interventions like the Galveston Bay Park are vital. The Gulf of Mexico is rising, the City of Houston is subsiding and, at the same time, coastal storm systems are increasing in both frequency and severity. The time is now to implement resilient infrastructure to protect the communities from the next major storm. The SSPEED Center, Rogers Partners, and Walter P. Moore team shows collaboration is key. Envisioned as a relatively economical and expedient solution to the threat of coastal surge for the western shore of the Bay, the park will serve multiple purposes, simultaneously restoring soft edges and habitats and providing recreational opportunities for the region to reconnect with its natural systems.