Along this last journal entry, I will aim to outline the major steps, accomplishments and challenges during the journey of taking the class CEE 220B, and will end up by sharing with you my major take-aways and lessons learned. Please notice that all of the models developed during this class, as well as an integrated one, can be found both in our Stanford folder of A360 and BIM 360 Glue.
My version of the Sustainable Living Lab and Exhibition Center ended up being an 18,364 sf facility of two operating levels; one public and one private. It’s a completely below grade structure, a condition that leverages the earth’s mass to keep a steady temperature throughout the year, avoiding peaks and valleys in the building’s cooling and/or heating requirements. It features a major green roof/public garden that integrates the building with the surrounding nature, at the center of which a round-shape central atrium enters into the building carrying daylight and fresh air. It is also completely designed for flexibility, an important (and simple) sustainable feature that makes the building resilient to sustain future needs the building occupants might have. Please take a look at my building’s floor plans.
Of course, non of this came without major sources of inspiration, help and guidance; both from existing projects throughout the world, fellow classmates and our Professor Glenn Katz. If you may, please take a look at my previous design journals to fund some pictures, sketches and massing models that helped me out with the design.
According to Revit daylight analysis tool, the building is LEED v4 –EQ c7 Option 2 compliant, this was achieved by testing different orientation and cladding settings to optimize the amount of daylight entering the building. An energy model was also done for the design, in which relevant material properties were carefully defined, including the concrete diaphragm walls, insulated roofs, double-pane LowE glazing, as well as the underground conditions.
The structure of the building is comprised of mixed steel and concrete elements, which were afterwards tested using robot Structural Analysis, where some element dimensions were optimized by weight considering the stresses and forces they were subject to. The MEP scope for this project consists of the HVAC and plumbing system. For the HVAC system, spaces and zones within the building were defined with their corresponding use type and settings in order to get Revit HVAC calculations. The zone set-points were based on AHSRAE standard 62-2001: ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality.
The curtain walls ended up being the signature system of my project. Having a particular interest in the system, I wanted to go the extra mile in the design and modeling of the curtain walls. These systems often ought to be compliant with structural, architectural, waterproofing, wind resistance, among others, which makes it a very interesting part of the design to me. The building’s atrium curtain wall was definitely the system that challenged my patience the most! It was built using multiple surfaces (which were based on model lines) for different sections of the entire curtain wall. Additionally, I tried keeping in mind the constructability of these systems in a real-world scenario (In fact, of all building systems). I kept all glazing width at or below 4 feet and height at or below 8 feet.
So what’s new in this final entry? Well, as I went through during my final presentation, I worked on a new model which contained the natural terrain and topography of the site. Testing out different building locations (not orientations) I looked for one in which the terrain fitted adequately with the perimeter of the building. After that, minor adjustments were made in the building’s shoring and curtain walls to accurately represent buildable conditions.
Secondly, I worked on the sustainable house assignment we also went through in class. My main inspiration for the house architecture was the main building entrance patio. In fact, the shape of the house obeys to the shape of this entrance patio. Considering privacy and orientation conditions, I located the house at a certain point in the building’s periphery. The model of the sustainable house may also be found at A360 and BIM 360 Glue. Additionally, I worked on the final details of the building’s exterior and emergency exit.
Finally, I worked with cloud rendering services to make a set of realistic pictures with the features of the building that I liked the most. Please take a look at them.
To wrap this all up, and as my final reflections at the end of this journey, I would like to share with you three take-aways and lessons learned from this project:
- It’s all about the insight: Analysis done in Revit may or may not help us with accurate numbers or results, however, they definitely provide the user with a frame of reference with which to evaluate how do certain metrics behave give different building characteristics.
- Don’t let the tools get in the way of ideas: No software is perfect, and no software could have all the functions to practically model the great variety of complex elements involved in building design. Don’t be afraid to model certain elements with the help of schematic masses or design intent; it will make the process practical.
- Sustainability is not a one-way road: There are many ways to achieve sustainability. My peers came up with myriad design ideas and sustainable features. Of course, one building cannot have everything, so it’s ok to let some things go so you can maximize the value of the strategies you keep in your design.