It’ll Take a Team to Design a Sustainable Future

Event: Multidisciplinary Innovation
Location: Center for Architecture, 02.04.09
Speakers: Phillip Anzalone — Assistant Director of Avery Fabrication and Material Conservation Laboratory, Columbia University; Craig Schwitter, PE — Principal, Buro Happold; Chuck Hoberman — Founder & President, Hoberman Associates; Tristan d’Estree Sterk — Founder, Office for Robotic Architectural Media & Bureau for Responsive Architecture (ORAMBRA)
Moderator: Nina Rappaport — Publications Director, Yale University School of Architecture
Organizer: Center for Architecture
Sponsors: Underwriter: The Center for Architecture Foundation; Patron: Con Edison; Lead American Council of Engineering Companies; Josef Gartner USA; Weidlinger Associates; Friend: Grimshaw

“Trusset Structural System” by Philip Anzalone, Cory Clarke, and aa64 (left); ORAMBRA’s “Actuated Tensegrity Structures” (right).

Courtesy AIANY

“I think that architecture students are hungry to learn more about sustainability,” stated Phillip Anzalone, assistant director of the Avery Fabrication and Material Conservation Laboratory at Columbia University. But, “today’s students don’t have a feeling for sustainability. They create sustainable projects; however, in reality, these projects don’t work,” added Craig Schwitter, PE, principal at Buro Happold. It is practicing designers and engineers who are collaborating to pave the way for a sustainable future with technological innovation.

Currently, Anzalone is researching how to incorporate greenhouse spaces into building systems in urban environments. He developed a “Trusset Structural System” at the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation with Cory Clarke, director of electronic publishing at Columbia University, and aa64 in collaboration with the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. This lightweight structure can span distances with a high degree of flexibility.

After much technical training, integrated research, and experimentation, Buro Happold’s master plan of the City of Justice at Valdebebas Park in Madrid, expected to be complete in 2011, takes advantage of the city’s abundant sunshine by incorporating photovoltaics to harness solar energy. A collaboration with Hoberman Associates, the responsive façade maximizes translucency and natural shading to minimize solar gain. “Portability, instantaneous openings, and intelligent responsiveness” are other functions of the system’s ability to fold, retract, and shape-shift, Hoberman said.

Similar to Hoberman, Tristan d’Estree Sterk, founder of the Office for Robotic Architectural Media & Bureau for Responsive Architecture (ORAMBRA), is “interested in challenging the notion of structure and skin by using unlikely materials.” With a focus on the connection between engineering and architectural media, his “Actuated Tensegrity Structures” explore the limit of rigid structures in relation to dead loads. He developed prototypes that change shape in response to the weather and building occupants to have a minimum impact on the natural environment.