Key / Essential / Unique Design Features that you explored in your project.
When I first began this project at the beginning of the quarter, I had 3 main goals in mind. Firstly, I wanted to make the building as energy efficient and self sustainable as possible. Secondly, I aimed to optimize heating and cooling the building by using positioning and materials to my advantage. Thirdly, I wanted to use recycled materials, especially those that are fairly new to the realm of recyclability like concrete and steel, to show the possibilities for a sustainable future.
To satisfy the first goal, I paid close attention to the building’s positioning near Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin. I maximized sun exposure on the south facing walls and captured this energy using curtain walls. I implemented shading mullions on the windows to avoid over lighting of certain areas. The building positioning also allowed me to fill both the first and second roofs with photovoltaic solar panels to effectively generate energy for the building. The plumbing system for the building included a greywater reuse system to save water.
While designing to meet the second goal of optimizing heating and cooling, the earlier steps I took toward building positioning and window placement helped me to meet this goal; however, I went further while designing the venting system itself. Each floor is broken into 3 distinct HVAC systems: west, central, and east. There were 6 HVAC systems total with individual air handling units (AHUs). By breaking the systems up into these systems, the building temperature can be better controlled based on positioning of the sun as it moves from east to west. I positioned the air supply and intake terminals strategically to maximize movement of air and provide a more even distribution of heat energy across the building.
Lastly, while meeting the third goal of utilizing recycled materials, I wanted to set an example of the possibilities that recycled materials can reach in the near future and shift focus to materials that are not readily thought of as recyclable. New technologies have shown concrete as a solution for carbon capture. CO2 can be stored in concrete as it is cast, preventing it from entering the atmosphere. Further, new companies have shown the possibility for wide scale recycling of steel. Steel and concrete are common materials used in this area, provide great structural strength, and high thermal mass. The high thermal mass helps support the first two goals. The structural system of the building is composed of concrete columns and steel beam/truss systems. All of the building’s floors and some of its walls are also concrete.
Your Big Successes -- what worked very well and what features you're most proud to share as examples to inspire others.
Reflecting on this entire design process and how I’ve gone from a clump of ideas to a finished product, I am proud of many aspects of the final building. The building’s architecture in relation to the lake and hillside stands out as one of my favorite features. The building promotes futuristic ideas while merging well with the nature of the landscape. By exploring many different ideas early on in the design process, I was able to quickly identify which architectural building characteristics were most important to me and focus on these. This helped reduce large scale changes in the design when working on other system like HVAC, structure, and plumbing. I am very happy with how the HVAC system was created. By playing into the available sunlight and building materials, I decreased the necessary loads on the system and had a modestly sized vent network that did not interfere with the architectural flow of the building. By splitting the HVAC network into 6 distinct systems, I was also able to satisfy the energy needs of the building in finer detail, zone by zone versus floor by floor. I also enjoyed how the structural system collaborated with the architectural model. Through careful planning, the structural system was setup to span larger distances and not impose on the high area rooms like the exhibit spaces and lobby. Overall, the building fits the sustainability and performance goals I set my mind upon at the beginning of the design process without much compromise in terms of layout and architectural design.
Your Big Challenges -- what aspects of the project created the biggest challenges and what would you do differently (in hindsight) to avoid or overcome these challenges.
I faced various big challenges throughout this process, some of which I did not anticipate. Firstly, the coordination of the first and second floor proved to be an interesting challenge. These two floors overlap vertically only on a small portion of the building, the southwest and southeast corners. Further, the roof of floor one goes above the base level of floor two. These limitations pushed me to carefully plan the flow of the building early on in the room zoning process. Even still, I had to shift the layout intermittently to satisfy the HVAC and structural needs. This taught me the importance of collaboration between the many systems that go into a building and has given me more appreciation for buildings that I walk through in my daily life. A second challenge I faced was how to layout mechanical rooms and plumbing rooms. By better distributing these across floors, buildings can be more efficient in the necessary plumbing and venting that needs to span to different rooms. This helps reduce construction and operating costs. A third challenge was creating the energy and analytical models of the building. I ran into roadblocks when it came to oddly shaped rooms or joints. This pushed me to explore a wider range of Revit’s features and better understand exactly how the energy calculations are sanctioning off rooms.
Lessons Learned -- what sage words of advice would you share with other students who are embarking on a similar project.
I learned many lessons while designing this building from scratch. The following are a good summary:
- Building considerations like material, layout, and flow. I learned a great deal about the decisions that go into a building. Considerations like person occupancy is not immediately obvious but can play a large role in the necessary design of the building. Buildings must ultimately satisfy the needs of the people using the space. Material, layout, and flow all play into the ease of use and comfort for people in the space.
- Plan early. By thinking about the overall vision from the start, designers can save themselves headache down the line when the building becomes more complicated with structural and HVAC systems.
- Revit provides a wide range of tools and features. Revit has a large set of features that I did not know before this design process. Software is a great tool when it comes to sharing ideas with others, viewing coordinated models, and running simulations before any physical construction. The teaching team helped me to be successful with using these tools and understanding their possibilities. The ideas and approaches we used to stay organized and efficient in this class can be further applied beyond building modeling but in many industrial fields as well.