Book Review

Is Wellness Design the New Sustainable Design?

A Review of Welcome to Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes our Lives

By F. Jeffrey Murray, FAIA Posted on August 18, 2017

Image courtesy Harper Collins Sarah Williams Goldhagen’s new book, written for the general public more so than the design community, is timely, important and worth a careful read by design professionals. Her fundamental claim is summarized in the preface: “What the new paradigm of embodied or situated cognition reveals is that the built environment and its design matters far, far more than anybody, even architects, ever thought that it did.” (p. xiv) Her book is timely because in the last couple years we’ve seen new checklists and scorecards for ‘wellness’ design (14 Patterns of Biophilic Design, The Well Building Standard, Fitwell — to name a few).  Wellness design appears to be a trendy term for what has traditionally been called...

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Pittsburgh Energy Innovation Center Achieves LEED Platinum Certification

Preservation project achieves peak performance

By Maya Henry Posted on July 18, 2017

A remarkable example of building reuse and historic restoration, a Pittsburgh state-of-the-art green building has successfully met the goal of achieving a high-level LEED Platinum certification.  On July 18, community leaders and government officials, architects, designers, and contractors all gathered to celebrate the the achievement.  The project team includes DLA+ as architect, CJL Engineering as MEP engineer, Klavon Design Associates as landscape architect, evolveEA as the sustainability consultant, and Mascaro Construction as general contractor. The 200,000 square-foot Energy Innovation Center (EIC), which hosts trade apprenticeship programs, energy-related technology labs for five universities, co-working facilities, and other production, design, and workspaces for nonprofit organizations and businesses, was opened in 2015 in the former Connelley Trade School Building.  For years, the design team...

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The Midwife Center’s Expansion Creatively Highlights Women’s Health

Rothschild Doyno Collaborative's design uses iconic mural to weave together old and new

By Maya Henry Posted on June 27, 2017

Photo by Maya Henry This March, nine months after it broke ground on a new 6,700 square-foot expansion, The Midwife Center for Birth and Women’s Health opened its new facility and became the largest free-standing birth center in the United States.  Local architects Rothschild Doyno Collaborative were selected as the design team and both client and architect saw numerous benefits from working together as neighbors. The Midwife Center didn’t set out to work with their new Strip District neighbor when the freestanding birth center thinking about expansion in 2010.  The facility has doubled the number of births and gynecological visits in the practice since 2010 and the expansion would allow for two new birthing suites to better match demand as...

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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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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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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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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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