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2011 Upjohn Research Initiative Program – Grant Recipients

Congratulations to all of the 2011 recipients!

Active-Passive Environmental Systems

Principal Investigators:
Rob Ley, University of Southern California - Advanced Studio Instructor & Southern California Institute of Architecture (Sci-Arc)
Doris Sung, University of Southern California

This funding proposal marks the next phase in two bodies of supportive research undertaken by two awardees of previous AIA grants. It will bring together two separate, though overlapping investigations of the potential of passive and active smart materials within building design and construction. These complementary developments undertaken over the past 5 years will combine to generate a building façade system composed of a tessellated surface that can respond independently to a variety of factors. The development of this new system combines for the first time the benefits offered by both ‘Passive Smart Materials’ such as thermo bimetals (Zero energy requirement passive motion) and ‘Active Smart Materials’ such as shape memory alloys (Immediate motion over millions of motion cycles). Taking cues from other responsive systems found in nature, where skins breathe, protect and regulate, a curtain wall system can be designed to mediate between man and his environment in a much more dynamic and responsive manner than just a typical hermetically sealed building envelope. When the sun penetrates the surface of the building, the strategically designed bimetal can change shape, automatically shading areas on the surface of the building to prevent heat gain, while the wire-like memory alloy Nitinol can be controlled manually by a self-ventilated mechanism when the indoor temperature gets too high. The result is a curtain wall system that will reduce the need for artificial heating and cooling, and, inadvertently, determine the dynamic aesthetic of the building facade. If steel and concrete allowed buildings to soar in the previous century, Smart Materials and Innovative Methodologies should allow buildings to live and breathe in the next hundred years.


Green Classroom Toolbox: Evidence-Based Integrated Design Tools to Guide Architects in Retrofitting K-12 School Facilities for Climate Change

Principal Investigator:
Ihab Elzeyadi, University of Oregon

Existing classrooms and educational spaces are problematic. They approximately consume 30% of the nation’s electricity, generate 35% of our waste, use 8% of water resources and are responsible for 20% of green house gas (GHC) and carbon dioxide emissions. While the new construction sector of the building industry has benefited from green products and building strategies to produce high-performance sustainable schools, existing classrooms have been largely ignored. This is a problem of huge proportions because the amount of occupied classroom space in the US exceeds 20 billion square feet. These existing educational spaces, generally a product of the past 30-50 years, are not energy conscious, and many of the new building products and sustainable strategies are not applicable to existing classroom retrofits. This research project targets this problem by developing evidence-based design guidelines for retrofitting existing educational spaces through the Green Classroom Toolbox (GCT) project.

Main Street Connectivity; Patterns and Processes Linking Urban Commercial Patches

Principal Investigators:
Edward A. Shriver, Jr., AIA, Principal, Strada Architects LLC
Rami el Samahy, Carnegie Mellon University
Kelly Hutzell, Carnegie Mellon University

The urban environ is organic and diverse, ecologically as well as socially. The lack of a single controlling entity permits a much broader range of businesses to evolve, such as national chains, local specialty, neighborhood service, bars, pawnshops, and every other kind of retailer. This creates what Christopher Alexander, noted architect and author of A Pattern Language called “a large collection of many small systems (that) goes to make up a large and complex system”; 1 Alexander called it a lattice. It is, in fact, a living city - an ecosystem.
Spatial patterns are inherently complex. In landscapes, the patterns that we see are reflections of the processes that produce them. To understand the patterns, we model the processes that lead to them. One important process is percolation. Percolation is the mathematical description that defines movement through a medium. Water seeping through cracks in rocks is one example. Several common landscape processes, both physical and biotic, are essentially percolation. These include the spread of epidemics, wildfire, pestilence, invasion of exotic species, diffusion in the soil, and the spread of new genotypes through a population. It also describes how people move through an urban environment.
We propose to apply landscape ecology tools — assessments and analysis of the patterns and processes of Main Street— to get beyond the superficial causes of the urban form and architectural response to identify and understand the underlying drivers of the vital urban ecosystem. Specifically, we will investigate how Main Street ‘connects’ through a joint semester long workshop in conjunction a local university Urban Design program, to identify relevant factors critical to quantifying urban connectivity in three separate Main Street locals, in order to extract fundamental elements common to success or failure to connect.


A New Knowledge Structure for Designing Net-Zero Energy Buildings

Principal Investigators:
Mark DeKay, The University of Tennessee
G. Z. Brown, University of Oregon

Architects are behind at achieving Architecture 2030 goals for all buildings. One barrier is a lack of sophisticated knowledge and tools. This project aspires to accelerate the profession’s progress by removing that barrier. The first problem is that current energy design guidance exists as disconnected and discrete ideas or techniques with little way to connect them or to decide which ideas to use for a particular building type, use pattern, and climate. The second problem is that the synergies and conflicts among different issues (e.g., heating, cooling, and lighting) are not revealed by current approaches.
Our hypothesis is that we can generate, test and publish an integrated knowledge structure for net zero energy design that will help designers choose families of design strategies and, thereby, broaden the number of net-zero designers, improving the sophistication of their designs.
This project organizes much of the knowledge of net zero energy building design. Key to identifying relationships among strategies are two methods we developed: 1) The Pattern Map method, which will allows us to map over a hundred existing design strategies, to identify missing strategies and to reveal their hierarchical ‘vertical’ scalar structure; and 2) a method we call Strategy Bundles, which reveals the ‘horizontal interrelationships’ among the issues. A third approach, Net-Zero Decision Charts, uses a design question-driven method for selecting design strategies and linking them together into Strategy Bundles.



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