blogging from the student's perspective

The Big Blue Bird Killer

The design group recently met with LEED certified architectural consultant, Stewart Whitcomb.  He provided us with great information about the history of urban planning as well as new design techniques being implemented.  After listening to what he had to say, it really gave me some perspective on something that I never took the time to consider.  The design group has been focusing more on the types of materials used or other technologies that both decrease the number of bird strikes as well as decrease energy consumption.  However Stewart brought up an interesting point.  He mentioned that back in the day a lot of emphasis in urban planning was on building orientation in relation to the sun and winds.  This prevented sun over heating the building and allowed for winds to ventilate the building.  However, with the development of air conditioning it made this point in design seem irrelevant.  Due to the cheap energy costs at the time, architects didn’t have to consider these things.  This trend has continued until now, and we are realizing that it is necessary that we revert back to our ways.

Case in point: the Big Blue Bird Killer.  The new Marriot in Downtown Indianapolis is designed in the worst possible manner in regards to these issues.  It is oriented in an East to West Fashion.  Therefore, in the morning the broader portion of the building will be overheated due to the sun, and in the evening the other broad side of the building will be overheated by the sun.  Unlike other hotels, the hotel is regulated by central air system.  Generally each room has individual A/C units, however since the building is made of windows this technique would look aesthetically unappealing.  So the building will pump cold air on one side of the building because of the hotspot heating, and then in the evening will have to pump in air on the other side. 

By turning the building 90 degrees a lot of this would have been avoided.  It is things such as these that we as a society need to be more educated and conscience about.  If anything, this has been something that I will take from this class.  I have gained an appreciation for those committed to make green buildings.  It is not easy to do and it is not the most practical thing.  However, it is the responsible thing as citizens of the Earth.


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