Design Journal Entry - Module 12 Wrap Up - Boran Qin

Journal Entry For
Module 12 - Sharing Your Project


Building Overview (Rendering)


Building Overview (Rendering)


Building Overview (Southwest)


Building Overview (Northeast)


Building Overview (West


My project was located at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve next to the lake. The building is 30,000 square feet and has two levels. As we can see from the 3D modeling screenshot above, level two includes parts of buildings, a courtyard, and terraces for visitors to relax. I also include some interesting features to reduce energy consumption. During the project modeling, I met many challenges and I want to summarize the experience for other students who wish to take this course in the future. Let’s get started!

Key Features

Roof PV system

Since the PV system is the most effective way to save energy consumption, I utilized three main areas of the roof (South, East, and West). There are total xxx panels on the roof with areas around 8000 square feet. According to the PVwatts calculations, I can receive 175,462 kWh amount of electricity each year at Jasper Ridge, which potentially saves a lot of energy.

PVwatts Data


PV System on Roof


PV Panels Details

Daylighting Roof

I deliberately designed the roof with a slope so that the solar side can install the PV system and the northern side can install daylighting windows. In this way, we can reduce electrical lighting consumption and introduce more natural lighting for the exhibition canter. I may also want to install automatic control for the daylighting windows on the roof since it is hard to open and close. By connecting the automatic windows and thermosets, we can measure how much air we need to ventilate the air through the room.

Green Shade

This is one of my favorite designs and I considered it a lot. During summer visitors may want to take a rest in the courtyard, but none of them may not want to sit under the sun. In winter, visitors also want to sit next to the heaters. Hence, I design this “green shade”, which can be a kind of ivy vegetation to shade the sun people in summer. In winter, the plant needs to hibernate so they will let the solar energy heat people up. It is like an automatic shade, and we saved a lot of electricity.

Green Shade Framework


Green Shade Vegetation


Green Shade Top View

Green Wall System

Since affordable construction material is one of my goals, I tried to use more insulated material to reduce heat losses and solar energy penetration. However, this can increase my construction cost significantly. Hence, I designed a “green wall” system to simulate the building insulation. I installed a façade frame on exterior walls and plant some vegetation to simulate as insulation. So, solar radiation cannot go inside buildings and we can save some heat losses in winter. The vegetation for the green wall should bear the winter temperatures. Such as coral bells, brown yew, blue spruce, etc. As long as it can shade a large area. The green wall patterns are designed to increase aesthetic purposes, and we may introduce more dense vegetation areas in the future.

Green Wall Overview


Detailed Green Wall

Green Terraces

Since the solar can cover most part of the ceiling areas of level 1, I introduced a green roof to reduce the solar penetration. This can also be used as a recreational area for visitors. As we can see that the green terrace area is relatively smaller than the concrete tile area, this is adjustable based on building performance. If increasing grass area can reduce energy consumption, we can plant more green terraces.

Green Terraces

Utilizing natural lighting

From south to north, I basically set all materials as curtain systems so that the natural lighting can go inside the building from the level 2 curtain and level 1 courtyard. Plus the daylighting roof, we have a lot of natural light sources. This can effectively reduce lighting consumption even though I design a lot of roof lighting.

Northern Side of Building - Daylighting


Atrium / Lobby Lighting Rendering

Inclined HVAC System

I designed an inclined roof and used a truss structure to support it. Hence, I created a lot of space for daylighting, and roof HVAC. In order to create a more special space, I designed an inclined HVAC duct to deliver the air from the roof. This can also solve ventilation problems. People open & close the doors on the north and south frequently, and create opportunities for ventilation. In addition, we may also set our HVAC system to work at the same time to accelerate circulation. For example, we send the cooling air from the level 2 HVAC system in summer and open the return air on level 1. In this way, we can circulate the entire atrium space. On the contrary, we can use level 1 HVAC to heat the space, and set level 2 as return air. Warm air will circulate from the level 1 atrium to level 2 roof areas.

Roof Details (HVAC Duct)


Inclined HVAC Duct

Atrium & Stairs

I set the atrium as the center of my building and designed a clear stair t encourage people to use it. As we can see from the graph, visitors can easily access level two using the stairs rather than turn left using the hided elevators.

Structural System

All my structural system is steel and I designed hollow roof space in order to receive daylighting increase atrium space. From an aesthetic perspective, this can make visitor feels comfortable.

Roof Truss

Reclaimed Water Plumbing System

To achieve one of my design goal-saving water (I was trying to design a rainwater collection system, but I found that this system is not efficient and it highly depends on the building areas and local climate). Hence, I design a greywater collection and delivery system. All the greywater from the bathroom and kitchen can be collected to the tank and will be used for the water closet flush. As we can see from the graph, this makes the plumbing system more complicated. Nevertheless,

Greywater Collection and Supply Pipes

Electrical Design

I didn’t design much lighting since the exhibition center only operates during the day and it has sufficient natural lighting. I only included some hanging lights and roof lights shown below.

Lighting Floor Plan



Energy Usage Intensity

I achieved architecture 2030 goals if I installed a PV system for my building. The original consumption is around 80 kBtu/sf/yr, and it was reduced t 73 kBtu/sf/yr when I set the operating schedule, plug load, and lighting efficiency at best performance. My building materials turn out to be lower than the base model (50 kBtu/sf/yr). Adding a PV system can effectively reduce the consumption from 50 to -0.3 achieving zero energy consumption. The reason is that I set efficiency as best 20%, 60% roof areas, and longest payback years. In reality, this may reduce because some variations may happen. Nevertheless, this simulated result can relatively prove that my building can perform well than I expected.

Natural light for Atrium

I really like my design to reduce the electric lighting by connecting the north and south sides of the building using a curtain wall system. And My atrium/lobby connects to all spaces (level 1 exhibition center, courtyard, level 2, and cafe). Normally, visitors can finish level 1 and go back to the café and rest. Then, they can explore level 2 and the terraces recreational space. Maybe they can see the sunset.

Courtyard Area


Atrium Lobby

Recreational Space



I created a recreational terrace space that also acted as insulation on the roof to reduce the cooling loads. Terraces are an important design element in architecture for several reasons:

  1. Maximizing Outdoor Space
  2. Views and Natural Light
  3. Energy Efficiency
  4. Aesthetics

Overall, my green terraces can contribute significantly to the quality of life and well-being of visitors, as well as the energy efficiency and aesthetic appeal of a building.


Second Roof

The overall layout on the second floor is quite challenging since it has empty roof space, and I need to design an HVAC system compatible with structural trusses. I think I need to design a triangle daylighting window so that we can utilize natural more efficiently.


Since I added so many additional families, I met some rendering problems (consuming a lot of time). However, I can solve it by using the third-party rendering tool Lumion to illustrate the model. The bad side is that we cannot see the coordination view (only architecture). When I was calibrating the model (which insulation I need to use for my building envelope), a lot of time was consumed on rendering and waiting. I think Autodesk can improve this feature and its cloud computation capacity for users.

Building Space Arrangements

I changed the room layouts many times throughout this quarter and refined my model every time. Sometimes, my bathroom space is too small, and I have to compensate for other space. Sometimes the access route from level 1 to level 2 is wired if I walk through inside the building. I think this is one of the biggest challenges I met in this project. We have to refine our model constantly, and this is limited to the overall building mass. Hence, a good starting point (nice, reasonable building mass is necessary).

A bad space layout can cause more troubles for structural design. After all, it is easy we just build a column at the center of the exhibition space. However, I need to avoid such a kind of bad decision. Consequently, my building’s structural plan is not quite uniform on the northeastern side because of the elevator shaft and mechanical room.

Lesson Learned

Plan Ahead, Design Best Building Frame

I think the first and most important lesson is that I need to rethink a better building bone & frame. I could utilize more interesting shapes to solve the irregular room & space (circular & triangular shape mass).

Compatibility Between Each Kind of Elements

We have floor, occupancy space, ceiling, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, structural, etc. It is quite a complicated system. I think we should consider everything first. For example, what should be the building level height? We need to estimate the expected height we want first, then it is structural (what kind of beams we need to use to support the building). After the structure is the HVAC, plumbing, and electrical. More importantly, the building envelope and structure need to be compatible with each other. We cannot build the structure and found out we need to dig a big hole in our wall to fit the column.

Design the Building Based on Climate

I still think I didn’t design the building very well since my envelope is not fit for the climate (maybe is too thin or thick to keep it warm or cool). More importantly, the building shape should not be sharp shape (like rectangular, circular, or column shape). We should design the building based on the climate (popular wind? Maybe we can utilize the ventilation. Solar energy, We can utilize solar panels more efficiently. Utilize the ground tomographic shape? Underground space or room?). I wish I can have had more time to take a look at the 220A to learn more foundations so that I can have more interesting building mass.

Video Presentation / Tour of Your Project Features

  • Presentation Slides
  • Presentation Video

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