The Lumen-Air House was designed in collaboration with Professor Tim Stenson for Upstate, an interdisciplinary center for design, research and real estate founded at the School of Architecture at Syracuse University. Upstate was seeking a sustainable and economical house that would breathe life back into Syracuse’s Near Westside neighborhood. Crucial to Upstate’s mission was the practicality, affordability and adaptability of the house. Per Upstate’s market research, the project would need to be a 1,100-1,500sf home containing four bedrooms that could be built for under $150,000, including fees and site work. The final product would need to represent an example of cutting-edge, sustainable practices, but shouldn’t leave the user feeling as though they were living in an architectural experiment.
The joys of Syracuse weather bring about the challenges of designing high performance, low energy housing in the surrounding area. In August, it is 82 degrees with a pleasant westerly breeze, but in February it’s 15 degrees with a rather unpleasant northwest wind. The challenge is not simply to design a house, but to design two houses in one – a multi-mode environmental device.
The Lumen-Air House is a machine for living – in specific relation to the weather. In the warmer months – May through mid-October – the house opens flower-like to filter sunlight and accept the free flow of fresh air. For the cold gray winter it buttons up. The interior living spaces are protected, insulated, by thermal buffer zones on the north and south faces. Though closed down, the interior of the house glows with diffused daylight through the multiple layers of greenhouse enclosure. In the shoulder seasons – early to mid-fall and mid-to-late spring – the open-closed aspect of the house adjusts to the changing weather. The result is a house that engages directly and intimately with the weather throughout the entire year.
The Lumen-Air House does not intend to camouflage into it surroundings. On the contrary, these types of houses will introduce a conspicuous and positive, yet critical compliment to the character of the Near Westside neighborhood. The houses are optimistic. They are outwardly asserting that architecture can efficiently respond to climate, and, through design-for-better performance, also provide shelter, comfort and environmental benefits. Benefits to the individual include the extensive vegetable planter located on the roof. It is capable of producing enough food in the summer months to feed a family of 5 and still have left over produce for friends, family and surrounding neighbors
Through its particular and striking form, we also intend our design to signal and to critically proclaim that buildings must effectively engage their environment. Though not shy, these houses also conform to and compliment the housing fabric of the neighborhood. They are volumetrically sympathetic with surrounding buildings, and thus can patch holes in this existing fabric.
The Radian is a 500-bed, residential and retail center at the edge of the University of Pennsylvania’s rapidly expanding campus. The project was developed by a private developer in collaboration with the university, which owns the land. The design integrates ground-level retail, residential services, and open space into a hybrid building that not only serves its residents and the university population, but the West Philadelphia community as well.
Ground-level retail pushes back from the street to open a public space for informal gathering. The residential entrance exists along this axis and public activity extends up and under the residential tower via a grand stair. This open court aligns with an adjacent quad on the south side of Walnut Street connecting with Locust Walk. Outdoor dining options are provided at the upper terrace level and allow for glimpses onto the street.
The building skin is a pre-fabricated rainscreen wall panel system. The pre-fabrication allows for a tighter tolerance and higher construction and quality. Being manufactured off-site brings an economy to the project which could not be met with typical construction processes.
Functioning as a critical element to the success of this mixed-use development, The Radian’s green roof is located on an elevated terrace above ground-floor retail and adjacent to an outdoor dining area. The goal for its location was to make the roof approachable and to maximize the visibility of the system in order to bring residents and users of the terrace closer to understanding its eco-value. As a result, the roof functions as an environmental and educational amenity for the project. The 12,000 square foot green roof covers 20% of The Radian’s total footprint and was originally designed to satisfy the city’s stormwater control regulations.
The Rialto at The Piazza is located on a three-acre portion on the south side of the former Schmidt’s Brewery site. It is the centerpiece of the Piazza at Schmidt’s development in Northern Liberties. The all-glass office building responds to its environment by using a performitive data analysis to develop a mosaic glass pattern that is based on views and solar orientation.
The Rialto is a 30,000 square foot, seven- story building with six floors of office space and 4,000 square feet of restaurant space at the ground floor.
Drexel University’s history and reputation are heavily rooted in engineering and technology disciplines, so it seems only appropriate that those aspects of its built environment occupy a more prominent place in the conceptual infrastructure of the campus. This new dormitory is a building that is more than a superficial or decorative relationship, but rather a collaboration that respects and reflects the fundamental pedagogy of Drexel’s historical roots.
This project was a collaboration between Erdy McHenry Architecture and Cecil Balmond, one of the worlds leading structural engineers. The building is the first at Drexel to establish and promote a design approach that embraces an integrated design team where the systems and structures are the conceptual drivers.
The dormitory plan strives to achieve a high level of efficiency by locating all stacked core elements toward the center of the plan and through allowing the students rooms to radiate about the edge of the core. While the core maintains the same orientation throughout the entire height of the building, the students’ rooms rotate about the core.
Conceived of as a place as opposed to a building, the café creates a quiet respite for visitors to reflect on their visit to Independence Mall and absorb the vastness of both the monuments and history that make up Philadelphia. Located just across from Independence Mall Visitor’s Center, the central location acts as a catalyst for activity midway through the mall sequence.
The café structure provides food-service support for the upper terrace and allows for a variety of menu and drink options. Building on the National Park Service’s long history of open picnic/dining facilities, the café is a minimal, open-air structure that provides moderate protection from the elements. The east and west facades of the structure are comprised of movable glass walls that can be fully open or closed depending on weather conditions. This flexibility enables the café to extend its usable seasons for visitors.
In phase 2 of the project, a hyperbolic paraboloid tent structure will provide shade and moderate protection from the elements, which further defines the site as a space for café visitors. This more intimate setting will provide an area for outdoor educational programming.
In response to Drexel University’s acute shortage for undergraduate student housing, the new dormitory was designed, engineered and constructed in fewer than 13 months. The project was organized by the university as design-build in order to accommodate the necessary fast-track schedule. This allowed for a more transparent process that brings together client, architect, builder, and subcontractors as active participants in the design process.
The new dormitory enhances the current and future campus pedestrian circulation. Taking cues from the university’s master plan, the housing space rises up from the ground to allow passage through the site, which enables a stronger connection between residential and campus areas of the university.
A cast concrete plinth mediates the sloping site topography and establishes the entry sequence for the dormitory. The transparency of the first floor exposes the shared program elements for the building, which include: gathering/ recreation space, mail and package room, vending, administrative services, and laundry area. The corner areas of each floor contain quiet reading areas and a shared kitchen/ meeting space. Mechanical space, maintenance shops and bicycle storage is accommodated within the plinth.
The bedroom floors consist of four-bed suites with a shared living room. The layout configuration allows the suites to be mirrored in plan regardless of location. The exterior panel configuration reflects the location of the living rooms on the interior, adding variety to both the facade and the access corridor.
Systems selections were evaluated based on speed and constructability. The structural system is precast concrete plank set onto a steel frame. The exterior wall panels are shop-fabricated and were placed on the building as a finished, water-tight assembly consisting of brick, aluminum, glass and ribbed metal.
This thin, 17-story condominium tower slides into place beside the Cunningham building on Chestnut Street, an early 20th century building of similar proportions. The primary gesture is that of a vertical plane which is then folded and draped over both the existing and new buildings. The folded plane is then sliced and peeled back to reveal stunning views of its dense Center City environment. The addition is to be comprised of modern condominium housing with a small retail space located on the ground floor as well as a mezzanine. This 18-story space would serve as a beacon to the rejuvenated 13th Street corridor neighborhood. Ultimately, the new site would help to elevate the developing neighborhood to the status of the more highly regarded blocks of Chestnut Street located west of Broad Street.
The Cunningham Building addition enables an extremely high rate of efficiency because the majority of the services and circulation space are provided within the existing Cunningham Building. In this manner, the addition is viewed as a parasite to the existing structure, taking advantage of the existing utility chases, vertical and horizontal circulation spaces and a portion of the structure.
However, the relationship of the two structures should really be classified as a symbiotic parasitic relationship. The addition is designed to provide a structural brace frame that would allow the existing structure to meet more stringent seismic code requirements for high-rise buildings. Additionally, the new structure provides a more visible profile from the street, enhancing the identity of the existing building while drawing interest to the streetscape.
The large, tooled surface of the west façade is designed to become a landscape that activates the three visible facades, circumventing the usually monolithic scheme of a tower, while enabling more light and air onto the city street. The various cut-outs, set-backs and terraces create exterior space for all of the dwelling units while sliver windows bring light and view to the usually dark middle of the building.
The interiors are designed to take advantage of long views through the narrow footprint of the building, drawing attention to the full height glazing that affords views of the Center City skyline.
2007 – AIA Philadelphia Honor Award for an Unbuilt Project