- Key / Essential / Unique Design Features
- My building has two stairways at each end of the building surrounded by curtain-wall paneling. These serve as egress points and are also architecturally interesting.
- I especially like the atrium I created that opens into the cafe area and has south-facing light. I think this design feature creates a unique center for the building and keeps the building design feeling open and airy. A key design point I focused on was ample natural light, and I think this was achieved through the placement of windows and curtain walls in the building.
- My building has a greywater collection and supply system that helps reduce the amount of clean water being used. I also have a greenroof on the top of the building that allows for cooling and increases the amount of permeable area.
- Thinking about the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the project (minimize energy use, use sustainable materials, and integrate my building into the surroundings/minimal disruption to environment), I think I was successful in meeting them. I maximized passive design features, minimized my use of concrete by building the structural frame from recycled steel, and added a green-roof to the top of the building.
- Your Big Successes
- I think one of my biggest successes was the layout of my architectural plan. I spent a lot of time thinking about the flow of the building, allocating the right amount of space to each area/room, and trying to optimize the lighting from windows to allow for the maximum light to hit rooms that were most often used (ie. placing storage and restrooms in areas with no/less natural light).
- I am also proud of the way I planned the passive design features— I placed large curtain windows on the south side of the building to optimize the amount of natural light and heating, paired with an overhang to block summer sun and allow winter sun to penetrate the building facade. I also paired this with concrete floors to act as a thermal mass, as well as adobe material on some walls to absorb heat during the day and release it at night.
- Placing my restrooms stacked above each other was another success; this made creating a “core” much simpler by being able to run risers vertically through the building and being able to copy some elements across all restrooms.
- Your Big Challenges
- Modeling the HVAC system proved to be particularly difficult for me. Understanding and implementing the many factors that play into a robust HVAC system was challenging, as was trying to fit all the features into the ceiling without compromising height and avoiding clashes. Overall, I am proud of the system I created but if I had more time, I would have liked to spend more time exploring different types of heating/cooling, such as adding in water features or radiant floors.
- Creating the structural system was another challenging point for me; there were some instances where the structural elements clashed with architectural or (later) HVAC elements. These were difficult for me to change, due to the pattern of the structural grid.
- Lessons Learned
- If I were to re-do this project knowing what I know now, I would have started with the structural model, then done the architectural and finished with the HVAC and plumbing. Placing the structural elements after having devised an architectural layout was more challenging than I believe the other way would have been. I would have also given myself more height on each floor to accommodate the HVAC elements without compromising ceiling height.
- I think another important lesson I learned was the value of having a simple design and adding from there. I had ambitious design goals at the beginning, but quickly realized that adding all of them might be too much for the scope of this 10-week course with the skills I had. Scaling down my design goals allowed me to focus more deeply on each module and really get a better understanding of it.
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