Selected Highlights of the Labs21 2010 Annual Conference
Patterns of Opportunity
Joseph Collins, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, and John
Breshears, AIA, P.E., LEED AP, Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects LLP
Sometimes, the best "new" ideas in sustainable design aren't
really new at all. Almost 30 years ago, Wendell Berry, the great American
poet/farmer, wrote an essay entitled "Solving for Pattern."
Although his topic at the time was sustainable agriculture, there is a
seam of gold to be mined here by planners and architects in applying the
principles Berry espouses to the process of integrated design.
Simply stated, Berry was advocating for problem solving that fully considers
the entire context of systems that are a part of any individual design
problem. In our work as architectural designers, we choose to think of
this perspective as the "pattern of the design opportunity."
When searching for design solutions in this way, and using Berry's guideposts,
we will recognize a good solution based upon a couple of essential characteristics:
- A good solution improves the balances, symmetries, or harmonies within
a pattern. It is a qualitative solution, rather than enlarging or complicating
some part of a pattern at the expense or in neglect of the rest.
- A good solution solves more than one problem, and it seeks not to
create new problems.
Examples of these principles as applied to a high-performance laboratory
building in southern California, the University of California (UC) San Diego
Health Sciences 2, include:
- Campus planning—When patterns of land use and place-making on
the existing campus are clearly identified and superimposed with the
patterns of shading, daylight, and resulting building performance, opportunities
are revealed. In this particular case, the selection of an elongated
north-south site predicated a large area of vision glazing on the east
and west exposures. Consequently, an automated, dynamic exterior shading
system was developed in order to match the pattern of building operation
with solar position.
- Water—Within the exigencies of the southern California water
shortage, careful analysis of climatic patterns and heating, ventilation,
and air conditioning (HVAC) system responses revealed a strong correspondence
between periods of maximum irrigation demand and maximum supply of water
from reclaimed sources. In particular, annual periods of maximum irrigation
demand showed correspondence with maximum production of HVAC condensate.
Ultimately, the project is predicted to clean 412,000 gallons of stormwater
prior to release, avoiding the use of 360,000 gallons of potable water
- Daylight/Cooling—Given the solution of a dynamic exterior shading
system, three different permutations of automated venetian blind systems
were evaluated for their ability to optimize the benefit of daylight
and offset electrical lighting use against increased cooling loads in
the laboratories. The final solution was tuned such that the daily patterns
of combined cooling and electric lighting loads were kept within the
standard cooling capacity of the system, avoiding the need for increased
ventilation and cooling rates. The pattern of the architectural façade
design is a direct response to the pattern of solar orientation.
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) Emissions – As a result of the
University's voluntary commitment to CO2 reduction and offset
trading, performance-enhancing design measures were considered by the
client group not only in financial terms but, critically, for CO2
emission reductions over the life of the building. The impacts of these
measures on an individual building were considered for their effects
on the projected pattern of institution-wide CO2 emissions
over the coming decades, and capital resources were allocated to the
project accordingly. Consequently, the annual building operation is
projected to avoid 5,000 lbs. of CO2 emissions due to savings
in potable water and 200,000 lbs. due to combined reductions in required
lighting and cooling energy.
The wisdom of Berry's approach is demonstrated in its applicability to
high-performance building design. Thoughtful consideration of patterns
presented by the problem at hand can reveal patterns of opportunity for
more holistic solutions.
Joseph Collins, during
30 years of professional practice, has developed a particular expertise
in overseeing multidisciplinary teams working with multiple client user
groups in a highly collaborative manner. From ZGF Architect's Portland
office, he has directed work on several of the firm's most complex projects
across the country. Through his leadership in the programming and design
of a number of new interdisciplinary bioscience, bioengineering, and nanotechnology
research and teaching facilities over the last decade, Mr. Collins is
at the forefront of innovation in sustainable laboratory design. Recently,
he has also led teams designing other academic facilities, theaters, science
museums, and large-scale, mixed-use urban redevelopment projects. He is
a recognized authority on the planning and sustainable design of research
and teaching laboratory facilities, including projects at Johns Hopkins
University, Stanford University, University of Washington, UC Berkeley,
UC San Diego, and UC Davis.
is licensed both as an architect and as a mechanical engineer. His 20-year
career has focused on the expressive combination of technology and form,
pursuing research into non-traditional solutions to architectural problems,
bio-mimetic design in particular. He was awarded the Peter Rice Prize
by the Ove Arup Partners to support two years of exploration into bio-mimetic
applications to sustainable design, resulting in the development of a
curtain wall system based on the principles of the human lung. He was
subsequently awarded a grant by the Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Foundation for research that furthers the balance between the advance
of technology and the preservation of the natural environment. Mr. Breshears
is currently a principal with ZGF Architects, where he is engaged in design
and applications of research to a wide variety of commercial, institutional,
and public buildings. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical
engineering from New Mexico State University and a Masters of Architecture
degree from Rice University.