Feature

The Nonprofit Paradox: High-Performance on a Budget

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Annex, Byham Center for Dance

By Nicole Grayburn and Melanie Como Harris, AIA Posted on April 17, 2017

All photos Adam Warner, IKM Incorporated “High-performance building” takes on new meaning when showcasing a visual art like ballet. When the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre announced plans to build an expansion in 2013, they accepted an obligation to grow responsibly and ensure the longevity of a beloved arts organization. With this obligation comes a distinct set of priorities (and constraints) for nonprofit organizations where sustainable practices often fall short in the face of time and budget. How, then, does a brand in the business of “pushing the limits,” push the limits of green design on a budget? In partnership with IKM, a firm committed to the goals of the AIA 2030 Challenge, the Ballet agreed on a design that puts art on...

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Feature

ACTION-Housing’s Penn Mathilda Development

What an Affordable Housing Solution Can Look Like in an Urban Neighborhood Business District

By Maya Henry Posted on March 28, 2017

All photos by Nathaniel Rice courtesy ACTION-Housing, Inc. unless otherwise noted. ACTION-Housing’s Penn Mathilda development designed by mossArchitects seems to defy conventions about what affordable housing is, can, and should be. The project provides 39 units of affordable housing with half reserved for veterans.  Additionally, the commercial spaces are fully leased to arts-based, locally-grown businesses including Assemble, Level Up Studios, and Silver Eye Center for Photography.  The project is contextual, adjacent to public transportation, and takes into consideration the Penn Avenue Corridor Master Plan that recommends that new developments be pedestrian-oriented and contain ground floor retail, restaurant, and gallery uses to promote active storefronts.  Columns recently sat down with developer Lena Andrews of ACTION-Housing and architect Andrew Moss, AIA of mossArchitects to discuss the project....

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Feature

Design Pittsburgh 2016

View All of the Winners of Our Juried Competition

By AIA Pittsburgh Posted on October 27, 2016

ARCHITECTURE: Honor Award PROJECT NAME: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Knoxville Branch CLIENT: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh ARCHITECTURE FIRM: GBBN Architects DESIGN TEAM: Anne Chen, AIA; Amanda Markovic; Julian Sandoval ENGINEERS: Sci-Tek Consultants, Inc.; WBCM; WNA Engineering, Inc. CONTRACTORS: Shannon Construction Co. PHOTOGRAPHERS: Massery Photography, Inc. DESCRIPTION: Formally described as a bunker, this project transforms a brutalist 1962 building into an inviting destination for a diverse community. The deeply recessed entrances were moved forward to provide ample glazing that facilitates views to the street and daylight to the interior. Small additions at the front and side of the original building maximize the interior plan, providing a dedicated area for teens and expanded children’s area with an outdoor deck. JURY COMMENTS: With...

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Feature

From the Ground Up

Prototype Housing Helps Shape the Places We Call ‘Home’

By Virginia Shields Posted on October 6, 2016

This article originally appeared in Columns Magazine in September 2009. It’s one of humanity’s basic needs. From caves to huts to houses, shelter has changed dramatically as humans sought to better their world. Many housing innovations have had to do with survival, furnaces for warmth, glass windows for protection, while other strides have been in the art of building and the building of art. Nonetheless, humans have been busy perfecting the construction methods of home-building for thousands of years. Each of the new developments in homes had to start with a dreamer architect and a prototype design, be it a Cro-Magnon with a crudely constructed hut or a designer with a neatly grafted blueprint. And today’s architecture is as rich...

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AIA+2030: Climate Responsive Design at Chatham University’s Eden Hall

A Recap of the Most Recent AIA+2030 Session

By George Rieke, AIA and Christian Pegher, AIA Posted on July 19, 2016

The summer evening was idyllic. Not too hot, with a slight breeze from the northwest and white fluffy clouds. Over 30 participants stood at the highest point in Allegheny County, absorbing the fresh air and abundant sunlight, experiencing the inception of tomorrow’s college campus: Chatham University’s Eden Hall. The college was the host of AIA Pittsburgh’s third session of the AIA+2030 Professional Series, focusing on “Climate Responsive Design,” and the venue was perfect. We would start with a baseline, including terminology, strategies, climatology, technical applications, and case studies, presented by Christine Mondor, AIA of evolveEA. Next, a very informative history lesson from Charles Rosenblum of Carnegie Mellon University was presented. He would explain through local and regional cases how people...

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Rising to the Challenge

The AIA+2030 Professional Series, Session IX Review

By Melanie Como Harris, AIA, LEED AP BD+C Posted on April 23, 2014

Attendees of the AIA+2030 sessions have, up to this point, met at the Bruno Building for an intimate knowledge exchange. However, Session IX – Hand-Off + Staying in Shape – took a provocative turn. This time around, class was held on the Phipps Conservatory campus. The first half of the evening consisted of presentations by John Greenwald, President of Mechanical Operations & Consulting (MOC), and Jason Wirick, Director of Facilities and Sustainability Management at Phipps.  The second half of the evening involved a tour of Phipps’ newer buildings from the facilities operator’s point-of-view. Together, the unique learning experience enlivened the often mundane topic of building operations and maintenance.  Series moderator Marc Mondor, AIA kicked off the session by introducing John...

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Rising to the Challenge

The AIA+2030 Professional Series, Session V Review

By Melanie Como Harris, LEED AP Posted on November 10, 2013

The clever title—Aggressively Passive: Employing Passive Systems for Load Reduction—established a focus for AIA+2030 Session V. The evening’s speakers succeeded in presenting information on the topic from a number of angles. The end result was a well-rounded curriculum providing an approach to passive system design. Here is a review of those talks. First up was Khee Poh Lam, PhD, RIBA who began the evening with a rousing discussion of bioclimatic design, building performance mandates, and building simulation. Dr. Lam purports that energy efficiency is a proactive task that begins with an understanding of the site’s relative conditions. To demonstrate, he presented several examples of indigenous structures in extreme locations around the globe. The key to passive design is to control...

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Rising to the Challenge

The AIA+2030 Professional Series, Sessions III & IV Review

By Melanie Como Harris, LEED AP Posted on October 9, 2013

The fifth installment of AIA Pittsburgh’s AIA + 2030 educational series will take place this week, building upon the contents of its predecessors. All of the sessions thus far have been inspiring while featuring a variety of useful strategies and tools to implement in our projects. Given that the two most recent sessions provided the knowledge base upon which Thursday’s session will build, it is worth reviewing those previous sessions. Session III – Accentuate the Positive: Climate Responsive Design Held back in June, the evening started off with a presentation from Christine Mondor, AIA of evolveEA. Her approach to climate responsive design is rooted in three elements: energy efficiency, thermal comfort, and climate-adaptive responsiveness & resilience. Reinforcing the strategies of...

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Book Review

Walking the Walk

Walkable City, by Jeff Speck

By David Julian Roth, AIA, LEED AP BD+C Posted on August 1, 2013

Mr. Speck thinks that our profession can be obsessed with “gizmo green”, specifying “sustainable” products that often have an insignificant impact on the carbon footprint when compared to a building’s location. It makes little sense to him that we design a LEED-certified building that you must drive to. Architects can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing and just adding a solar panel, wind turbine, bamboo floor, or whatever. Location trumps design.Transportation planner Dan Malouff is quoted here, putting the situation into simple terms: “LEED architecture without good urban design is like cutting down the rainforest using a hybrid-powered bulldozer.” I have been using the real estate web site mentioned in the book to evaluate project locations for my clients. Walkscore.com’s...

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Rising to the Challenge

The AIA+2030 Professional Series, Session II Review

By Melanie Como Harris, LEED AP Posted on June 13, 2013

On the third Thursday of May, members of the architectural community gathered at the Bruno Building downtown to further their knowledge-base on high-performance building design. The class was the second of ten sessions in the AIA+2030 professional educational series, which offers strategies towards achieving the 2030 Challenge of carbon-neutral building operations by the year 2030. The 2030 Challenge aims to achieve carbon-neutrality through a combination of design strategies, technologies and systems, and off-site renewable energy that significantly reduce fossil fuel use and green gas emissions. Session II, entitled Getting to 60: The Power of Targets + Load Reduction, featured presentations from architect George Halkias, AIA from Stantec and engineer Alan Traugott from CJL Engineering, and Karen Butler from the Environmental...

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