Mike Cavanaugh Named CannonDesign’s Sustainability Leader

  • February 11, 2016

Jain Selected to 2016 Lab of the Year Jury

  • January 12, 2016
  • Author: Danielle Forsyth

Punit JainPunit Jain, AIA, LEED Fellow, has been selected as a juror of the 2016 Laboratory of the Year Awards. A prestigious and global competition, the Lab of the Year Awards recognizes the best in laboratory design through innovation, construction, sustainability and operation.

Jain is a leader in our science and technology and sustainability practices. As a LEED Fellow, he has overseen the design and construction of over 24 LEED projects in the life sciences, engineering and physical sciences. He is responsible for generating innovative solutions in regenerative and net zero design for complex scientific facilities at a campus and building scale. Punit serves on the national board of the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) and the advisory board of the Scientific Equipment and Furniture Association (SEFA). Read about his thoughts on sustainable laboratories and the devices that can help conserve water.

Learn more about our S+T Expertise >

Coppin State University, Science & Technology Center – Design Intent

  • January 11, 2016
  • Author: John P. Reed

Coppin State University’s Science and Technology Center is a singular building that must address and fulfill many aspirations of this urban campus. It is a building that operates at both a macro and micro scale. It is a part of a campus, part of a city and part of a neighborhood. It fits into the fabric of the campus and the patterns of daily student life.  It is a building specifically designed to meet today’s exacting tolerances and specifications for labs and teaching spaces but also to promote the cross pollination of ideas across disciplines and between faculty and students.

The City – The Campus – The Quad

The Baltimore neighborhood that surrounds the Coppin State University (CSU) campus consists of traditional, low scale, two and three story row houses. CSU has been working hard to maintain good relations with the neighborhood even as it expands into these decaying residential areas. With the design of the Science and Technology Center we wanted to open up the campus to the city, to emphatically mark its presence with an open space or quadrangle. The quad is meant to be a place of optimism, a place for commencement speeches about the bright futures of Coppin’s graduating seniors. The quad will become the new outdoor living room of the campus with students studying, hanging out on the south facing steps and enjoying a traditional university campus atmosphere. The building engages the neighborhood lightly at its edges with a zone of gardens and shallow site walls which are designed to allow for transparent visual connections while at the same time to provide a secure setting for the students.

Coppin State University Design Intent Renderings

The building’s specific location was determined by analyzing the existing campus pedestrian circulation system. The building sits astride the major north/south pedestrian walk which moves through the center of the campus. The walk crosses North Avenue and passes under the faculty office pavilion and down a sloping ramp against the face of the building. There are two lobbies, one at the north under the faculty office pavilion which faces the existing campus across North Avenue and a second at a lower level and to the south, directly across the quad from the adjacent Health and Human Services Building, (HHSB).

Coppin State University Design Intent Maps

The quad space contains a set of large-scale campus steps which link the lower level green space up to North Avenue, a main east/west link to downtown Baltimore. These steps, whose precedence may be found in many American campuses, also directly relate to the traditional Baltimore row house marble front stoops. In fact recycled marble steps from houses previously on the site will be incorporated into the new campus steps. At the head of the steps sits a pedestal intended to house a statue of Fanny Jackson Coppin for whom the school is named.  She was an African American educator and missionary born to an American slave.

Coppin State University Design Intent Inspiration

The Building

The internal organization of the building was determined through numerous discussions with the faculty as well as a detailed program analysis of how to best stack the laboratories while accommodating flexible building systems. The faculty offices were grouped together to foster a sense of community. The double loaded lab volumes were splayed apart at the ends to create spaces for collaboration between students and faculty. To make the building floor plate more efficient, lab spaces requiring large amounts of air changes were placed on the top floors.  This eliminated the need to bring large shaft spaces into the lower levels of the building. Architecturally, the building fits the existing masonry palette of the campus and neighborhood. The facades are designed to reflect the program within and the unique solar conditions of the site. Vertical fins shade the fully glazed faculty offices while deeply recessed strip windows at the labs block the direct sun.

Coppin State University Design Intent Sketches and Designs

Coppin State University’s Science and Technology Center strengthens and expands both the Coppin State campus and its relationship with its environs. The project energizes the campus connection with the city of Baltimore and the surrounding neighborhood through a striking gateway presence and formation of a classic campus quad.

Learn more about our Science + Technology Expertise >

UB’s Solar Decathlon Team Takes 2nd in National Competition

  • October 21, 2015
  • Author: Will Ransom

The University at Buffalo (UB) team placed second overall in the national U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. The team has been hard at work for over two years, fundraising and planning to make this ultra-sustainable home a reality.

UB solar decathalon group

Second place overall winners is University at Buffalo, The State University of New York at their house at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015, October 17, 2015 at the Orange County Great Park, Irvine, California (Credit: Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

The UB team finished with 941.191 points out of a possible 1,000 for the GRoW (Garden, Relax or Work) Home. Stevens Institute of Technology, hailing from Hoboken, New Jersey, took first place with 950.685. Cal State Polytechnic University was a distant third at 910 points.

solar decathalon house

PV arrays for University at Buffalo, The State University of New York at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015 at the Orange County Great Park, Irvine, California (Credit: Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

CannonDesign joined many of our local client-partners to support the UB solar decathlon team over the years. At last year’s Environmental Awareness Week, Bob Shibley, dean of UB’s School of Architecture and Planning, was our local speaker in the Buffalo office. The funds we raised through our sponsors last year were donated to the solar decathlon’s expenses at the competition.

Bob Shibley speaking at EAW

Bob Shibley at CannonDesign’s Environmental Awareness Week. Proceeds from this talk went to the solar decathlon team.

In the spring of this year, the solar decathlon team also met with our CannonDesign interiors group for a brainstorming and consultation meeting. They discussed building material, space planning, and design concepts particularly for the kitchen and bedroom. Additionally, several CannonDesigners were involved as students prior to joining the firm.

solar decathlon group

Nate Heckman (center) of University at Buffalo, The State University of New York gives a tour of the GRoWlarium, which utilizes a solarium and a green house into the living quarters of their home at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon at the Orange County Great Park, Irvine, California Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. (Credit: Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

This competition has been instrumental in training the next leaders in sustainable design and they should be extremely proud of their accomplishments.

Learn more about our Environmental Awareness Week 2015 Events Here >

How Sustainable Laboratories Can Help with the Water Crisis

  • October 21, 2015
  • Author: Punit Jain

How can sustainable laboratories make an impact?

I was fortunate to attend the national I2SL conference in San Diego, California, recently and wanted to share my thoughts on how laboratories can conserve water—one of our most vital resources. It is both an exciting and challenging time for laboratory design. Now, more than ever we are called to bring innovative solutions to the environmental issues we all are facing.

California is immersed in one of the most extreme droughts in its history. Since the conference was located in the heart of this issue, many of the discussions and presentations revolved around how best to conserve water in the laboratory setting.

Related Content: Resiliency + Urbanization: An Interview with Lance Jay Brown

eVap 1100 for sustainable laboratories

New devices that can help with water conservation

My colleague Gerald Williams and I discussed the benefits of utilizing the building’s chilled water system instead of potable tap water to reject heat from the laboratory experiments. Devices such as the eVap can achieve this and save millions of gallons of water a year.

Now, laboratory designers are consistently called to find innovative solutions to reduce water use while increasing energy savings. For example, I presented on Eckerd College’s James Center for Molecular Biology and Life Science in St. Petersburg, Florida, which features a revolutionary air-conditioning system that uses

treated, nonpotable wastewater from the nearby wastewater treatment facility to cool the building. The system pipes the water through the building’s heat exchanger to cool the building’s air conditioning system and then returns the warmed water to the plant, air-conditioning the building without using potable water. This innovative measure will also save millions of gallons of water every year. This and other methods helped earn the JCMLS LEED Platinum certification from GBCI/USGBC.

In both of these instances, great steps were taken by innovative planners and designers to think consciously about how we are using our water resources. We all need to take great measures to ensure we are using water in our lab environments efficiently and sustainably!

Read more about our sustainability services here >

An EAW Interview with Vivian Loftness

  • October 20, 2015
  • Author: Danielle Forsyth

Environmental Quality, Building Systems Integration, and a Love for Pittsburgh

Vivian+LoftnessVivian Loftness, FAIA, LEED AP, is a University Professor and former Head of the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University. She is an internationally renowned researcher, author and educator with over thirty years of focus on environmental design and sustainability, advanced building systems integration, climate and regionalism in architecture, and design for performance in the workplace of the future. She is a registered architect and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Vivian answered some of our questions in anticipation of her presentation at our Environmental Awareness Week event on Wednesday, October 28 in Pittsburgh.

CannonDesign: What topic are you planning to present at the EAW event?

Vivian Loftness: I’m part of a research team here at Carnegie Mellon with a wide range of research that could be of interest to the CannonDesign group. The first is, “how do buildings need to change in response to health and productivity?” Another is, “what is the emerging ‘internet of things’ doing to improve environmental quality?”

CD: In terms of the environmental quality, do you have any examples of your research you would like to share?

VL: By using the phrase “environmental quality,” we are broadening the dialogue to include the overall health and well-being of people in spaces, considering all factors like thermal, air quality, visual, acoustic and spatial/ergonomic conditions. Innovations are occurring in every building system. Take lighting for example. In addition to LED innovations, daylighting is an incredibly important source and still a major design challenge for working environments. Far too often, we’ve handed over lighting design to the electrical team, and interior façade layers to the interiors team, but today we’re finding the need to collaborate much more strongly than we did in the past.

In a few years, Loftness says, there will be an increased ability to personally adjust workplace environment settings through smartphone technology, thus saving significant amount of energy.

In a few years, Loftness says, there will be an increased ability to personally adjust workplace environment settings through smartphone technology, thus saving significant amount of energy.

The “internet of things” is allowing us to put sensors and controllers on every “terminal device” in the workplace. Today, we can see what lighting levels we have at our desk and can control each fixture independently—a big shift from where we’ve been in the past. Now, we can make choices and take action to make our environments more sustainable. In the very near future, every light fixture, every air diffuser, every plug point and every dynamic façade component will be digitally addressable with smart phone controllers to give the occupants a true say in their indoor environments and reduce energy consumption by about 40%.

CD: You’ve touched on the importance of building systems integration. CannonDesign prides itself on being highly integrated – do you have any advice for us?

VL: A firm that has the full suite of expertise is, potentially, far more competitive in today’s search for innovative buildings —but only if it truly acts as an integrated firm. For example, an engineering firm takes its new hires from college and throws them into a different specialty than what they studied in school, be it civil, mechanical or electrical engineering, thus forcing them to literally operate outside of their comfort zone. This creates a deeper understanding about the entire planning and building process and a commitment to true integration. If CannonDesign has methods in place that encourage breaking down silos—not just occasionally showing up at meetings together—then the partnership will reap the benefits of being an integrated firm.

The second critical tip in successful integration is how strongly each member of the team believes in passive building systems. If you have a lighting engineer that says, “daylighting is an amenity, not a reliable light source” or if you have a mechanical engineer that says, “natural ventilation is not a guarantee of ventilation or thermal conditioning, and pressurized buildings are the answer,” you will not be able to create innovative façade solutions. If you are not committed to “unplugged” solutions you will have a weak link in your chain of producing a high-performing building.

CD: You live and work in Pittsburgh and have a real love for the city. What are some things you love about it?

VL: Pittsburgh is always a surprise for new visitors and even a surprise for those who haven’t been here in 20 years. It’s an idyllic setting where two rivers form a third at the foothills of the Allegheny, and it’s a hilly city unlike a mid-western city. It’s filled with green slopes and has five large Olmstead parks. Where these two rivers form a third, the city skyline is a crescendo with a dense urban core. The smoke is gone. The mills have disappeared. What was once a hundred miles of industry along the waterfront has slowly but surely been turned into some of the most beautiful greenways and developments in any city.

LEED-CertifiedIt’s also a leading green city largely because of a host of firms including Astorino (Astorino joined CannonDesign in 2014). They designed many landmark buildings in the downtown and surrounding area and they have a real commitment to green building design. Because of their efforts and others like them, Pittsburgh now has one of the largest arrays of LEED certified buildings in the country in relation to its size. For all who can come see the presentation in-person, it is being held at Phipps Conservatory. Through the leadership of Richard Piacentini, Phipps has added a series of cutting-edge LEED buildings, including a brilliant net-zero energy and net-zero water Living Building Challenge office and classroom building that has gone through a full year of reporting and data mining on its building systems. And, since it is a conservatory, it has some of the most beautiful flowers you can ever imagine. So, if anyone from CannonDesign is in driving distance, I would highly encourage you to visit for the presentation!

Vivian Loftness will be speaking at Phipps conservatory in Pittsburgh on October 28 as part of CannonDesign’s Environmental Awareness Week (EAW). EAW is CannonDesign’s annual celebration of smart ideas, innovative technologies and iconoclastic thinkers that help guide our progress toward becoming a regenerative practice.

Learn more about our EAW event in Pittsburgh >

Read our interview with Michael Harcourt on more EAW Topics >

On Resiliency and Urbanization: An Interview with Lance Jay Brown

  • October 12, 2015
  • Author: Danielle Forsyth

Lance Jay Brown on Resiliency and UrbanizationLance Jay Brown, FAIA, DPACSA, is the principal of Lance Jay Brown Architecture + Urban Design in New York City, fellow of the Institute for Urban Design, ACSA Distinguished Professor at the City College of New York’s Spitzer School of Architecture, and served as 2014 President of the American Institute of Architects’ New York Chapter. He is a recipient of the prestigious AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education and more recently received local and national awards for his Post-Sandy work. He will be presenting in our NYC office on October 27th during our Environmental Awareness Week (EAW).

CannonDesign: What topics are you planning to focus on for the EAW event?

Lance Jay Brown: My experiences over the last decade or more have exposed me to a wide variety of changes that are happening in the world as we know it. They range from addressing global challenges, such as the great movement toward urbanization around the world, to studying the evolving city in the U.S. and internationally. There are also many local challenges, including resiliency, housing affordability, and the role of the public realm. Recently, much of my focus has been on the effects of hurricane Sandy.

CD: Can you elaborate on your work on resiliency and the need for preparedness in today’s world?

LJB: I look upon my engagement in the post-Sandy world as having started in the post-9/11 world. During that time, I think I became personally sensitized to being prepared for disastrous and potentially tragic events. I knew I was a part of a large urban community of 8 million people, but it was my home and I wondered how ready we were to deal with something of that magnitude again. And I don’t think it was a stretch to say we weren’t ready enough.

Design for Risk and Reconstruction

Courtesy of www.designforrisk.com

A few years after, there was an onslaught of natural disasters around the world, including the devastating Shri Lanka tsunami in 2004. With all of these on my mind, I decided to form a task force named The Disaster Preparedness Task Force. It wasn’t a committee or heavily sanctioned, but it had good people from the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter, the American Planning Association, the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the Regional Plan Association. With this small group, we were able to discuss what we could do to better prepare ourselves for disasters of every kind. During this time, I also did some research and found that only three states—California, Texas and Kansas—had an AIA disaster preparedness manual. New York State didn’t yet have one.

Our task force eventually drafted that disaster preparedness manual for AIA New York State. And at some point along the way, around 2010, the work of our task force was seen as important enough to be sanctioned as a standing committee of the AIA NY chapter: the AIANY Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee (also known as the DfRR). In the last 5 years, it has become one of the most robust and active of AIA NY’s 27 committees. You can see more of the story of our committee by going to www.designforrisk.com

CD: So when Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, how did the committee respond?

LJB: When Sandy arrived, we were a cohort of people ready to take action. We didn’t have to start from scratch—we were ahead of the curve for once. Our ability to respond was fairly nimble and we were called to the NYS Office of Emergency Management to discuss immediate next steps. At the same time we were doing work on the ground, we were organizing the AIA New York chapter and all of the related committees to start to do research as to how we could respond to the challenges presented.

With about 400 of us working together and in collaboration with ACEC NY, ASLA NY, CHPC, NYSAFFAH, APA NY Metro, RPA, and SEAoNY, we put together a complete, 43-page report entitled the Post-Sandy Initiative. We cited six special areas that needed attention; it was the first document published in response to Hurricane Sandy. The document lives on even today as an extremely useful template for any post-disaster report that can be used for other cities, regions and communities. The full report and its eight- page executive summary is available on the DfRR website.

The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy the Battery Park Underpass

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Battery Park Underpass is seen completely flooded along the West Street entrance looking north in Lower Manhattan.

CD: Anything else you will be touching on in your presentation?

LJB: I’m also going to touch on my writings related to urban recentralization and design, and my work with the United Nations and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will be discussed fully at the U.N. Habitat III meeting in 2016 in Quito, Ecuador. The U.N., in its long history, has largely focused on the developing world. During that same amount of time, the urban population has grown and, for the first time in history, is globally larger than the non-urban population. The population of the world just last year became over 50% urbanized. The SDGs includes a goal which focuses on cities and topics such as mobility, transportation, housing, public space—many of the things that engage the design profession.

Sustainable Development Goals

The design profession has a unique opportunity to align itself better with these goals and can respond to new challenges and innovate new methods of design and planning that did not previously exist. My advice is to expand the fields and integrate the silos of how we work because the nature of sustainability and resiliency is extremely collaborative. I would like to see the design profession take the lead in collaborative actions that respond creatively to the emerging resiliency environment.

Lance Jay Brown will be speaking in New York City on October 27th at the CannonDesign office as part of our Environmental Awareness Week (EAW). EAW is CannonDesign’s annual celebration of smart ideas, innovative technologies and iconoclastic thinkers that help guide our progress toward becoming a regenerative practice.

Learn more about our EAW event in NYC >

Read our interview with Michael Harcourt on more EAW topics >


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