Sharing Project & Lessons Learned

Your Name
Marcella Li
Linked Student
Journal Entry For
Module 11 - Sharing Your Project
Mar 11, 2022 6:32 AM
Last Edited
Mar 13, 2022 10:17 PM


Key / Essential / Unique Design Features

From the beginning of the project, I wanted to focus on reduced energy usage, water conservation, and green space. I was also intrigued by structurally optimized shapes, and modeled the overall building envelope (lofted roof and hourglass shape) after an example of an optimized topological interlocking assembly. I also drew inspiration from buildings that blend into the landscape around them. In this case, the curved shape of the building is inspired by the rolling hills of the Dish site. The roof is patterned with hexagonal panels, and the material/usage of these panels can be changed to better suit the building needs (e.g. skylights, green roof material, or eventually solar panels). The draping aspect of the roof provides shading, while the extensive curtain walls help bring in daylight in the winter months.


I wanted the building to feel open, with an easy flow between spaces. So, the building features some long spans, plenty of open space, high ceilings, and atriums. The structural system is exposed to help with the high ceiling effect, especially on the 2nd floor where the lofted roof shape gives a 2-story height in some areas.

The atriums help to connect areas and bring daylight into the interior spaces, which helps with reducing energy usage. In the entry atrium a large double-height greenwall will serve as a focal feature behind what would be the front desk.

Entry Lobby/Atrium Green Wall
Entry Lobby/Atrium Green Wall
View from cafe area, toward entry atrium and upper exhibit space
View from cafe area, toward entry atrium and upper exhibit space

Your Big Successes

Being able to change the material/usage of the roof's hexagonal panels worked quite well. It is primarily a green roof material to provide some natural insulation and it helps the building blend into its environment. After doing a daylighting analysis, I determined where I could change some of the hex panels to be a glazed material, to bring daylight into the back atrium and also into the 2nd floor core interior rooms (bathrooms and mechanical room) which wouldn't otherwise have a natural light source.

I also utilized interior curtain walls to bring more daylight into the interior rooms on the first floor. This helped bring almost all rooms to an acceptable lighting level with natural light.

Back Atrium. View from 1st floor (office/education spaces)
Back Atrium. View from 1st floor (office/education spaces)

Creating a structural system to support the roof was tricky, and the current system needs adjustments, but using an exposed truss system in the highest roof arounds allowed for the high ceiling spaces that I wanted in the building. Also, to avoid trusses in the middle of the building, I used structural walls both for supporting the roof and to serve as part of the lateral resisting system.

Back Atrium. View from exhibit spaces
Back Atrium. View from exhibit spaces

By using identically stacked bathrooms, and strategically placed plumbing elements, I was able to implement a simple greywater system that minimized pipe congestion.

Your Big Challenges

When creating the structural system, it was difficult to place columns such that they didn't obstruct open spaces/walkways while also trying to maintain a fairly regular grid system to lay out the beams. In hindsight, I would have taken more care in setting up the architectural layout to enforce symmetry and line of walls conveniently. Probably the biggest challenge was the sizing and placement of HVAC and trying to minimize clashing with the other systems. I had linked the mechanical and architectural models, but I should have also linked the structural model before starting to place vents and ducts. I had kept in mind that the ducts needed to be placed at different heights relative to each other and also relative to the beams, but it was hard to both restrict the duct heights and keep the duct widths from being too wide.

A smaller issue was that, since I decided to use exposed ceilings, I was limited in my lighting options. Currently I have wall lights, but ideally I would implement overhead lights and find a way to secure them to the exposed structure.

Lessons Learned

  • When starting to lay out your building, think ahead to the different systems that need to be incorporated and coordinated (structural, HVAC, plumbing, etc.)
  • Before starting to place all of your HVAC elements, be very mindful of what height you’re placing them at, how they might fit relative to the structural system, and what duct height to restrict them to.

Video Presentation / Tour of Your Project Features

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