The IoT, Whatever It Is, Is Here

In computer circles and, in general, most digital realms, there is something called exponential growth, or sometimes Moore’s Law. Basically, it predicts that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit will double every couple of years. There are those who have questioned, rightly so, whether this rate of growth is sustainable indefinitely. Logically, one would think not, and recent progress would seem to bear that skepticism out. Personally, I think a slowing of growth might be good to give everyone a chance to catch their collective breath.

Nevertheless, the term seems to apply generally to many facets of technological and digital development. In fact, the concept has been employed to describe the driving force behind not only technological change but social change, productivity, and economic growth. Something of that sort clearly is going on in the lighting industry. LEDs were big news a few years ago, but at the last LightFair the buzz was all about controls and connectivity. It still is, but in my recent conversations with industry insiders, the term Internet of Things came up repeatedly.

One problem with this exponential growth thing is that we have to come up with new names—or acronyms—to describe all of this new stuff. One might say there’s been exponential growth in inexplicable and misunderstood terms used to describe what are often complex concepts.

I suppose this might have always been the case. When movable type was invented and pages were fastened together to form a book, were there discussions about what constituted a book? Did it have to have a minimum number of pages? A hard cover? Illustrations or no illustrations? Presumably all of the above. Different terminology evolved: pamphlet, comic book, hardcover, paperback, magazine, to name just a few. They all are composed of paper and bound together by different technologies, but terms have evolved to differentiate them. That’s the nature of language.

Computer-speak and digital dogma, being relatively new, seem to be suffering the same language-based growing pains. Take the Internet of Things, for example. What does that even mean? What things are those? Everything? One imagines the internet (lower case per the recent edict by the Associated Press) as an amorphous cloud (cloud computing) that attracts things randomly by static cling or some mysterious force understood only by geeks. Things like lost socks perhaps?

Matter of fact, that’s pretty much what the internet does. It attracts all sorts of things (information), some of it outdated, some of it wrong, some of it garbled or just plain crazy. That’s what makes one wary of the Internet of Things concept. Especially when some of the initial breathless notions made little or no sense. What is the point of having one’s household appliances talk to one another? It is completely useless to have a toaster talking to a washer or dryer, or any other appliance, person, or thing. A refrigerator that beams a photo of its contents to your potentially explosive smartphone is beyond ridiculous. If you can’t plan your shopping any better than that, perhaps you need to be in some sort of custodial-care facility.

OK, these excesses may just be exuberant, out-of-the-box thinking that will evolve into unimagined, useful things some day. You can’t blame people for trying stuff just because they can.

But to the point, the terms we use to describe all this new stuff sometimes are less than ideal. I came across an article in a respected magazine that justly ridiculed “smart devices” that “dupe” consumers. As an example, the writer held up a propane-tank app that connects to your smartphone to measure the contents of the tank that supplies your outdoor grill. The author correctly points out that there are simpler and cheaper ways to measure the contents of that tank. While I know nothing of outdoor gas grilling, I tend to agree. I would ask the additional question: Why do not the manufacturers build a simple indicator into their appliances that would measure the fuel level? How hard would that be? Automobiles have had such a device for years now. (Yeah, yeah, measuring a gas isn’t the same a measuring a liquid, etc.)

That aside, the author’s mistake, in my mind, is saying that this app exemplifies the Internet of Things. I don’t think so. It is an example of the Internet of A Thing. Only one thing is connected here, and that thing isn’t connected to anything else. Just like the refrigerator. One thing. The Internet of Things, however, is about at least several things connected, sharing information, and interacting. Those things, by the way, are not random things, but things that are related and have some logical reason to interact. Folks in the lighting industry seem to have grasped this concept. They may be onto something. Who knows where it will lead? –

Kenneth W. Betz, Senior Editor

Responsive Facilities Meet Higher-Ed Challenges

The updated library at California State Univ., Dominguez Hills, accommodates 1,600 new reader stations and nearly 250 computer workstations while showcasing artwork that reflects the region’s multicultural population. The updated library at California State Univ., Dominguez Hills, accommodates 1,600 new reader stations and nearly 250 computer workstations while showcasing artwork that reflects the region’s multicultural population.

By Ray Varela, Design Principal, Carrier Johnson + CULTURE

Challenges facing U.S. universities and colleges today are significant, ranging from issues of affordability and access to greater diversity and a push for innovation. Fewer students are finishing their college degrees, and only about four of 10 full-time, first-time students nationally earn a bachelor’s degree in four years. Can new facilities—and better uses of existing buildings and grounds—be part of a solution?

Learn more about responsive campus design in our interview with Ray Varela.

We’ve seen proof that they can. Community-college expansion projects, in recent years, have created facilities that bridge the divide between full-time and part-time students and between commuting students and those taking online courses. At public universities, there’s fresh evidence that innovation in residential life, with more attractive offerings for freshmen and transfer students, boosts retention rates. Academic settings are diversifying, too, helping private and public institutions stand out and create memorable college experiences.

One planning strategy is merging new buildings with existing facilities to create special synergies or reinforce the school’s mission. An example can be found near Los Angeles at California State Univ., Dominguez Hills, which ranked second in a 2015 list of the 100 most affordable U.S. universities. There, university leaders envisioned a new south wing of its Leo F. Cain University Library that would create a strikingly contemporary expansion to contrast with the 1960s-era modernist surroundings, yet fit in naturally and comfortably.

Flanked by two major pedestrian walkways, the updated library anchors the academic corridor of the campus. As it doubles the capacity of the original library, the five-story addition also bridges the divide between old and new. Inside, a dramatic new learning space accommodates 1,600 new reader stations and nearly 250 computer workstations, as well as study rooms, book stacks, and state-of-the-art archival storage and research. Just as important, the facility’s events center and art gallery showcase works that reflects the region’s multicultural population.

When it opened, the CSU Dominguez Hills library dean said the expansion “represents so much more than the traditional academic library. We note our tremendous diversity as a signature of our campus, and we now have a building that is an artistic showcase of our many cultures.”

These projects must deliver daylight, outdoor views, and other ways to comfort students. Art and nature informed the approach for a science center at Point Loma Nazarene Univ., where new labs and classrooms embrace a landscaped area for students to meet and relax. An iconic addition to the coastal campus, the building features an elevated walkway behind a long arc of perforated stainless-steel panels spanning its full length, filtering sun and shade into a common area—a subtle echo of a cathedral space, apt for the school’s religious mission. The feathered panels also protect the glass facades from the sun’s glare and heat.

Most important, new majors and collaborative research opportunities are housed in the science complex, enhancing Point Loma Nazarene Univ.’s high rankings for its science department and record of successful placements into medical schools.

In addition to academic facilities making campus life remarkable, new ideas for residential life are spreading across the country. At one end of the spectrum are small-footprint “micro-dorms” in new or retrofitted buildings, leaving extra space for shared study and lounge zones. Examples include the Univ. of British Columbia in Vancouver, which is building new, furnished student apartments smaller than 150 sq. ft.

Contrast this with the Univ. of California, San Diego, where recent residential projects for its Village at Torrey Pines offer large, apartment-style units with modern amenities and a sleek design aesthetic. Designed as transfer-student housing, the “eco-flats” residences are competitive with area market-rate offerings, giving the university flexibility in the face of future demographic shifts. Most important, the UCSD residential zone is infused with art, dining options, community spaces, and amenities, making it a real village.

Today’s higher-education leaders continue to do more with less, creating innovative and magnetic new learning environments that add value to today’s college experience.

Ray Varela is a leading practitioner in higher-education architecture and campus life. He is a design principal and project leader at the global firm Carrier Johnson + CULTURE, a San Diego design and strategic branding practice known for innovative building, living, and communications solutions.

HVAC Solution Drives Sustainability

Hunter Industries wanted an HVAC solution that would align with its commitment to sustainability and its goal of LEED certification. Hunter Industries wanted an HVAC solution that would align with its commitment to sustainability and its goal of LEED certification.

Hunter Industries was founded in 1981 by irrigation-industry pioneer Edwin “Ed” Hunter, and is a family-owned global company. Headquartered in San Marcos, CA, the company is a market leader in a full range of water-efficient, easy-to-use irrigation solutions for a variety of residential, commercial, and golf-course applications.

As the company began to make plans to renovate a 49,000-sq.-ft., two-building complex that would become a part of its nine-building corporate campus, energy efficiency was a key priority. The joined buildings, previously housing low-occupancy, light-industrial workshops and storage areas were being converted to high-occupancy office space for Hunter’s engineering teams. The renovation also included more than 10,000 sq. ft. planned for an employee workout facility. Working with its mechanical contractor, the company sought an HVAC solution that would align with its commitment to sustainability, and its goal of LEED certification.

The Hunter team turned to one of its long-standing partners, Trane, Davidson, NC, to discuss the project. Based on objectives to meet the comfort needs of employees while meeting energy-efficiency goals, a variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system was recommended.

“When we learned about the Trane ProSpace VRF system, we were intrigued by the zone control we could achieve with the system,” said Todd Melton, plant engineer, Hunter Industries. “It was important to us to provide our employees an office space in which they could choose the temperature they wanted while still maintaining our commitment to environmental sustainability.”

A Trane ProSpace VRF system quietly moves heated or cooled refrigerant throughout the interior of a building using small-diameter pipes. A Trane ProSpace VRF system quietly moves heated or cooled refrigerant throughout the interior of a building using small-diameter pipes.

The company prides itself on being innovative, and the cutting-edge VRF system provided efficiency and performance. Rather than moving heated or cooled air throughout the interior of a building like many traditional systems, the VRF system quietly moves heated or cooled refrigerant throughout the interior of a building using small-diameter pipes. The refrigerant then passes through coils in each room being served, and fans move air past the coils transferring warmed or cooled air into the rooms for a comfortable environment.

The VRF system also uses high-performance variable-speed compressors, which precisely match their output to demand levels, providing the ability to heat or cool rooms only when they are in use. In addition, unit controllers set zone temperature and fan speed, allowing staff to keep its high-occupancy office areas and varied-occupancy workout rooms comfortable.

Hunter Industries’ corporate campus provides a sense of community among employees, and is built to work with the ultimate in energy and material efficiency.

The engineering-building complex plays an integral part in the company’s commitment to sustainability and employee satisfaction. With the Trane VRF system, the company received LEED Gold certification and has been able to reduce its energy costs. CA

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Watch a video on the system.

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Informal Workplaces Make Play Productive

By Christopher Bockstael, AIA, Partner, Svigals+Partners

For a major soft drink brand, Svigals+Partners created an “ideation lab” that incorporated digital media, flexible furniture solutions, and floor-to-ceiling writeable walls of whiteboard or blackboard paint over a level 5 drywall finish. For a major soft drink brand, Svigals+Partners created an “ideation lab” that incorporated digital media, flexible furniture solutions, and floor-to-ceiling writeable walls of whiteboard or blackboard paint over a level 5 drywall finish.

In recent years, commercial and institutional groups increasingly ask designers to create office settings that are more friendly, comfortable, and informal. “Lighten it up” is the new rule, not the exception. This has opened the door for real innovation. It’s also part of the stated mission at Svigals+Partners, New Haven, CT, to conceive productive playgrounds: environments that are conducive to open participation and creative collaboration, and the kind of grown-up play that supports progress, inspiration, and productivity.

Interview With Christopher Bockstael

Learn more about creating informal and flexible workspaces in our interview with Christopher Bockstael at commercialarchitecturemagazine.com/architects.

Along with these opportunities come challenges, however. For example, interpreting what “friendly” or “informal” mean to different clients or corporate cultures is essential. Many workplace projects demand some level of flexibility, too. But different organizations define that in vastly divergent ways. The key to success and the most supportive workplaces is to engage each client in a collaborative process from the earliest possible pre-planning phases.

Programming to support flexibility and a friendly environment requires rethinking how open-plan offices work. For example, traditional break rooms and kitchenettes are out. Forget those usual two- and four-top tables tucked away in a small non-descript room. Instead, develop ideas for lounge spaces with a mix of comfortable seating and family-style tables. Using adjustable and moveable furnishings that can be easily grouped together for staff meetings and presentations stretches the versatility of these spaces.

This flexible approach promotes workplace collaboration and communication. Add to this some focal elements that support office culture, such as an art wall, a coffee bar, or a ping-pong table. These add a comfort lifestyle that can benefit recruiting and retention of the best people. For one client, a major soft-drink brand, we created an “ideation lab” that incorporated digital media, flexible furniture solutions, and floor-to-ceiling writeable walls of whiteboard or blackboard paint over a level 5 drywall finish. In another case, we specified back-painted glass as a striking alternative. In each instance, the design featured a splash of color, texture, branded graphics, or all of the above, to reinforce the client culture.

With wireless technologies, informal workplace approaches are even more effective. Furnishings are more moveable without wired data ports, and Wi-Fi eliminates cable-management issues and the unsightly runs of visible wires. Power continues to be a connectivity challenge, but wireless charging systems are advancing rapidly. Meanwhile, well-designed plug-and-play pods in the floor or furnishings can serve electricity and data needs.

For break rooms, develop ideas for lounge spaces with a mix of comfortable seating and family-style tables. Furnishings that can be easily grouped together for staff meetings and presentations stretch the versatility of these spaces. For break rooms, develop ideas for lounge spaces with a mix of comfortable seating and family-style tables. Furnishings that can be easily grouped together for staff meetings and presentations stretch the versatility of these spaces.

Modular furniture, re-locatable partitions, and raised floors allow quick refreshes of the workplace look. Company divisions or employee groups can completely reconfigure at will, rearranging workspaces, break rooms, meeting areas, and lounges to support their needs and even their whims.

The most playful and productive playgrounds of all employ unique ways of customizing work space. An investment banking firm’s Connecticut headquarters, for example, takes inspiration from its leadership’s shared love of music. The result? Smack dab in the middle of the trading-room floor is the Quiet Room, as it’s known, which looks like a recording studio enclosed in sound-treated double-glazed walls etched with the company’s branding and fitted with color-changing lighting and an illuminated “In Use” sign. Inside, a high-tech sound system stocked with the employees’ collected music libraries provides an oasis in the middle of the trading floor, suited for private meetings, chat sessions, and reflective moments.

Speaking of lighting, integrating daylight into our workplaces is essential today. For the below-grade ground-floor offices of a leading pharmaceutical company, Svigals+Partners brought together glass walls, transoms, and bright finishes to maximize natural illumination. Years ago, calculating the number of lighting fixtures for an indoor office space only required determining the average uniform horizontal illumination in a space. Now, however, non-uniform approaches to office lighting design are taking the lead, thanks to an increased emphasis on energy conservation and a shift toward task lighting at workstations.

We’re also specifying far more natural-wood finishes and reclaimed and rustic materials. New research shows the benefits of such finishes—as well as views of the outdoors, interior plantings, figurative art, and other such elements, often referred to as biophilic—to occupant health and productivity. Mixing these materials with bold colors and patterns creates vibrant, visually stimulating spaces. The ideation lab described above, for example, incorporated a rich maple discovery wall. The feature serves as a storage space and idea center, with sliding cubbies backlit to display images from nature on transparent polycarbonate 3Form panels.

Everyone needs a productive playground in their lives. But change is hard for many organizations. Fortunately, innovation and creativity can be introduced with small gestures as well as big ones. Encouraging play and informal collaboration can offer surprising rewards, including increases in employee focus and morale. Once our clients see that playgrounds can be productive, they tend to ask for more.

Christopher Bockstael, AIA, is a partner at Svigals+Partners, New Haven, CT, and director of innovation space for the firm. Bockstael approaches design through the holistic integration of client vision, culture, and sustainability to develop meaningful environments, weaving together the creative aspects of architecture with pragmatic design solutions. He spearheads quality assurance for the firm, and identifies strategic business opportunities.

Cigar Factory Embarks On A New Life

The Cigar Factory, a jewel in the architectural treasure chest that is Charleston, SC, has a long history. The Cigar Factory, a jewel in the architectural treasure chest that is Charleston, SC, has a long history.

“I tell the young architects in my office, sometimes projects can take seven years from start to finish,” said Ron Stang, AIA, LEED AP, and chairman of the architectural firm Stevens & Wilkinson, Atlanta. “This one’s pushing nine.”

“This one” is the Cigar Factory, one of the jewels in the architectural treasure chest that is Charleston, SC. “The building is iconic in Charleston,” said William Cogswell, principal, WECCO Development, Charleston. “Everybody knows the Cigar Factory. It’s a very unique building and to say a single building stands out in Charleston is saying something.”

It is the site of what is thought to be the first singing of “We Shall Overcome” in a moment of civil rights and labor activism (see sidebar). Yet its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places is not for its role in America’s struggles for equality, but for its standing as one of the city’s few remaining Victorian-era industrial buildings and its key role in the region’s textile and tobacco industries.

Built in 1881 as a cotton mill, the five-story, 244,000-sq.-ft. structure was converted in 1912 into a factory for the American Tobacco Co., and it remained one into the 1970s. It is actually nine buildings that over time were consolidated into a single structure.

Once the American Tobacco Co. ceased its Charleston operations, the building found other purposes—first as an office building and eventually as the home of a Johnson & Wales Univ. campus. Beginning in 2006, it stood empty—a big and doleful reminder of what had been.

TSO Cigar Factory LLC, headed by The Simpson Organization and Atlanta developer Boyd Simpson, purchased the property in 2007 with the idea of creating 66 condominiums over a mix of retail and office space.

They opened a sales office and took deposits. With Stevens and Wilkinson and Trident Construction, North Charleston, SC, leading the way, Stang said demolition and construction “started in earnest.” However, six months after commencement, the recession hit. Things went from bad to worse when Silverton Bank, the bank that was funding Simpson’s project, failed. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. stepped in and soon pulled the plug on Simpson’s loan, forcing him to shut down the project in 2009. Legal wrangling ensued for the next few years. The case was eventually settled out of court, with Simpson retaining the building.

To “create a little street presence” for the retail on the ground level, a steel-and-timber canopy runs along the front of the property. Hung off the building with steel tie rods, it features exposed timber decking underneath. To “create a little street presence” for the retail on the ground level, a steel-and-timber canopy runs along the front of the property. Hung off the building with steel tie rods, it features exposed timber decking underneath.

Meanwhile, the property had caught the attention of Cogswell and his Atlanta-based partner Jay Weaver, of Weaver Capital Partners.

“I was fascinated by its economic history and its relationship to the city,” Cogswell said. “At the time of construction, there was nothing going on here. Originally, it was built as a textile mill, and that became an industry that not only lifted Charleston out of the dark days of Reconstruction, but the South, as well. So it was a big breath of fresh air when private investors put it together back in 1886.”

Cogswell and Weaver headed up the ownership group, Cigar Factory Development LLC, which purchased the property in April of 2014. They were backed by joint-venture partner Federal Capital Partners, a privately held real-estate investment firm out of Chevy Chase, MD. Their plan differed from Simpson’s.

“When we came in, my intent was to take it to commercial,” Cogswell said. “Residential— especially the condo market—was dead. Charleston has a pretty strong office demand and there wasn’t a lot of what I call ‘creative office’ in the region.” The building was not resistant to being massaged in a new direction. “Because they hadn’t really started residential build-out—they had just done core and shell work—we were able to come in and utilize a lot of the work they had done and keep going with it,” he explained.

He decided to retain the team of Stevens and Wilkinson and Trident Construction. “We knew the building. We had done so much work on it,” said Stang. “We had a building permit, reams of drawings, all the engineering. We had gone through the BAR, we had gone through all the other approvals…so we started to help them reframe up the deal to be office space in lieu of where the condos were going to be on the top four floors.”

Added Cogswell, “I remember thinking we could go in a different direction, but if something blows up in the future, I’ll look back and say I wish I’d gone with the original team.” More to the point, he knew both teams, and knew the quality of their work and reputations. “Plus they both had a real interest in the property, more than just financially. In the end, it was a pretty easy choice,” he said.

Their plan differed in another important way, too. Cogswell’s group decided to pursue historic tax credits. Cogswell said the entire team shared a vision for “the kind of renovations that we wanted to do on the property. We wanted to do it right. We didn’t want to go in and put product in–windows for example–that weren’t in keeping with the historical context, because we’d only end up devaluing it. Ron (Stang), Trident, and the lender were all on the same page, but, of course, that does bring the cost up.”

Not only did the team earn federal tax credits, it received two from the state, including one reserved specifically for the redevelopment of historic textile mills. “It was a very complicated structure,” Cogswell said, “but it ended up working very well for us, so we were able to do the development the way we all wanted it to be done.”

In the summer of 2015, the Cigar Factory reopened its doors—this time as Charleston’s premier mixed-use destination for high-end retail, professional, culinary, and event experiences. Current and soon-to-be tenants range from Garden and Gun magazine, and Mercantile and Mash—a food hall and casual bar—to the Clemson Univ. College of Architecture’s School of Planning, Development, and Preservation. The restoration’s long odyssey is a testament to the kind of persistence that Stang encourages in his protégés.

Over the years, many of the original window openings had been bricked in, adding stability to the structure. When those bricks were removed during the redevelopment, seismic reinforcing was accomplished with pattress plates and tie-backs. Over the years, many of the original window openings had been bricked in, adding stability to the structure. When those bricks were removed during the redevelopment, seismic reinforcing was accomplished with pattress plates and tie-backs.

Along the way, there were several big challenges. Parking was one. In the original plan, a single parking space for each of the condo owners was to be located underneath the building. In fact, block walls had been built to separate the parking from the retail. Significantly more parking would be needed for the proposed office and retail mix.

“We didn’t have enough parking onsite to do commercial,” said Cogswell. However, a block north of the Cigar Factory sat an unoccupied strip of land that was created when the old Cooper River suspension bridge was torn down and replaced by the spectacular Ravenel Bridge. Ownership of the small corridor had been transferred from the Department of Transportation to the city.

“It would have been difficult to develop, because in Charleston, you have to pile drive everything,” said Cogswell. So he approached the mayor and proposed that the city master lease it to the Cigar Factory.

“That’s what unlocked it for us,” he said. “The key to getting the project going was the parking, but the key to the project getting completed was the tax credits.”

The building’s windows offered another challenge. Stang said, “Getting the windows right was no doubt the most important component in rehabilitating the Cigar Factory into an award-winning, successful ‘certified rehabilitation’ project.”

Getting the windows right was complicated: not only did the windows have to satisfy the rigorous National Park Service (NPS) standards, but the openings were enormous–as much as 11 ft. tall. Meanwhile, the regional code demanded that the windows be hurricane resistant.

Those are “very large windows for hurricane impact,” said Tim Cooper, southeast regional sales manager for Graham Architectural Products, York, PA, the company that would eventually be tasked with developing a window solution.

None of the original radius-top windows existed, but a blurry, old photograph gave Stang’s team an idea of what was needed: a double-hung or a single-hung window with offset upper and lower sashes. And the 100 or so wood casement windows that had already been delivered for Simpson’s project–and approved by Charleston’s BAR–couldn’t quite match that necessary profile.

Stang initially looked for a wood window, but without any luck. A search for alternatives, he said, turned up, “a few people saying they could do it in aluminum, but not of the national quality of Graham. Graham was the one window company that we got comfortable with, that was proven, and that we knew could deliver.

All the office space is leased, with tenants ranging from 1,000 to 30,000 sq. ft. All the office space is leased, with tenants ranging from 1,000 to 30,000 sq. ft.

“Our firm has done a lot of historic buildings and we’ve worked a lot with Graham. We had just finished a huge project over at Georgia Tech, which was an old, 1940s dorm renovation that involved putting in historically compatible windows. So we’re very familiar with Graham and knew they were the ones who could most likely deliver what we needed to have delivered in an aluminum window.”

Still, it was a challenge for Graham. “We do National Park Service work all the time,” said Cooper, “but the size of these windows, in conjunction with the hurricane impact requirements–that’s what really made this a difficult project. Well, that and the very short time frame that we had to design and manufacture them.”

According to Stang, a lot of collaborative work took place between the National Park Service, Stevens and Wilkinson, Graham, and Richard Sidebottom, a consultant from MacRostie Historic Advisors LLC, Washington. Stang said specific hurdles included matching the jamb sightlines, rail dimensions, and mullion details of the original windows. “The National Park Service really focused on the window issue, and we had a lot of back and forth, regarding the sightlines and trim details and getting the hurricane rated, impact-resistant windows in profiles we felt were most appropriate for the building.”

“The National Park Service actually rejected our window jamb sightline once or twice so we had to redesign our frame to get them to approve it,” recalled Cooper. “We essentially had to take some metal out of our design to make it a smaller sightline, which could have been detrimental in the hurricane impact testing, because you’re pulling out some strength. So that was a hurdle our engineers had to overcome.”

Cogswell added, “Graham was critical. We have the same wind rating as Miami, but there wasn’t a window that had been engineered and tested that would work. Graham was the most proactive company in figuring out a way to engineer a custom window to meet the aesthetic needs of the park service, but also have it meet code. The windows on the building make the building.”

The event space also required some back and forth between the team and the NPS. “It was a great space with a vaulted ceiling and timber floors,” Stang said, “but it had columns running down the middle. We found a very sensitive way to take out the columns and open it up for a dance floor. The Park Service said we’ll let you take some of the columns out, but we’d like you to preserve some of the original columns. So we took a few out, (and) then added a steel tress up high. Through that compromise we were able to preserve some of what was original, while enabling the space to become functional for something today.”

Once the project was unlocked, and NPS approvals were granted, work resumed on numerous fronts.

Bats–and their droppings–had to be removed from the tower. Graffiti had to be scrubbed from walls and termite infestations had to be remediated.

More importantly, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s 2014 national seismic hazard map, Charleston is among the nation’s highest risk areas. The historic record attests to its vulnerability: The earthquake of 1886, one of the most damaging ever to hit the East Coast, crippled the city. Accounts indicate nearly every building had to be torn down and rebuilt, although the Cigar Factory, which was completed in 1882, apparently only lost some bricks on the tower that fronts the building.

Over the years, many of the original window openings had been bricked in, adding stability to the structure. When those bricks were removed during the redevelopment, Stang said, “We had to do a lot of seismic reinforcing with pattress plates and tie-backs.”

In addition, some of the old arch openings had to be reframed. Mortar had to be repointed and there was a lot of brick replacement and repair. “There was a good bit of care-taking with the brick and masonry restoration. It was not a total restoration as we wanted the building to maintain its longstanding patina.”

The team dug new foundations for the elevators, elevator pit, and stairways, and shored up the building in other ways. Ground water was encountered during the course of digging the foundations. Stang said the building also required a fair amount of timber remediation, both in the decking and the beams, as a result of water damage incurred during the building’s dormant time.

To “create a little street presence” for the retail on the ground level, Stevens and Wilkinson designed a steel-and-timber canopy that runs along the front of the property. “It’s very industrial looking,” said Stang. “It’s hung off the building with steel tie rods and it features exposed timber decking underneath. It’s designed to hold signage for the retail tenants and to designate the ground floor as something a little different.”

None of the original radius-top windows existed, but a blurry, old photograph gave an idea of what was needed: a double-hung or a single-hung window with offset upper and lower sashes. None of the original radius-top windows existed, but a blurry, old photograph gave an idea of what was needed: a double-hung or a single-hung window with offset upper and lower sashes.

In the end, the pursuit of another architectural jewel in Charleston proved worth all the sweat and effort, beyond the honors bestowed upon the finished project, including the Carolopolis award from the Preservation Society of Charleston, and recognition as one of “Preservation’s Best of 2015” by Preservation Action, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the National Trust Community Investment Corp.

“The tenants are over the moon on it,” Cogswell said. “All the office space is leased, with tenants ranging from 1,000 to 30,000 square feet. We have all but three small retail bays leased and we’ve kind of kept those off market because we’re pretty particular about who we have come in, especially on the retail.”

Being particular has been part of the game plan from the beginning, Cogswell said. “Jay and I both had a pretty heavy hand in making sure we catered to local and regional companies and branded the building as such. That’s kind of tough to do.”

The duo was so committed to this local brand, they deflected an overture from an interested publicly traded, AAA-credit tenant. “It just wasn’t what we wanted,” said Cogswell. “We prefer to have regional and local tenants. Fortunately, we were able to get our lenders to see the benefit in that, too.”

He continued, “The Cigar Factory has always played a major role in the economic history of the city. Now it’s put itself back out there as a major beacon of our diversified economy here in the Lowcountry. There are a lot of different types of uses that you don’t typically see in your run-of-the-mill mixed-use building, but the character and history of the building really lends itself–and gives real authenticity–to that story.”

Stang thought back on the near-decade long road to fruition and felt a good deal of satisfaction: “While it was a long, sort of arduous process, I think in the end the building and the project benefitted from the passing of time. It has a lot of new, exciting things happening, yet a lot of what was done there reflects the original vision of what we and the organizational team had put together. So, looking back, I guess I’m just happy I got to stay involved in it. We had a lot of hard work and sweat equity invested in it, so it was really fulfilling to stay involved with the second group that came through and delivered the project. And now the Cigar Factory has been reborn to serve Charleston for a full second century.”

“We Shall Overcome,” the protest song that became the unofficial anthem of the Civil Rights Movement, first found its voice in the struggle for workers’ rights at the Cigar Factory in Charleston, SC.

Twelve hundred unionized workers, most of them black and female, walked off their American Tobacco Co. cigar factory jobs October 22, 1945, hoping to obtain better wages, improved benefits, fairer treatment, and the retroactive pay management had previously agreed to pay upon the conclusion of World War II. In addition to the Cigar Factory issues, Local 15’s action was part of a broader strike against the American Tobacco Co., with workers also walking out in Philadelphia and Trenton, NJ.

At the time, the American Tobacco Co. was one of Charleston’s largest employers, with young, working-class, black and white women and men providing as much as 30% of the cigars and cigarettes enjoyed by American troops overseas, as well as the most popular five- and 10-cent cigars in America.

Four days after the workers first took to the streets, Local 15 held an integrated meeting at the African American Morris Street Baptist Church, the local’s first-ever black and white union meeting. African-American union representative Marie Hodges later characterized the local as “one of the world’s greatest institutions in the breaking down of racial, religious, and national prejudices.”

During the walk-out, as strikers stood in the cold, one picketer, Lucille Simmons, would often sing “We Will Overcome,” to the tune of the spiritual “I Will Overcome One Day.” According to fellow activist Lillie Mae Marsh Doster, Simmons’ song on many occasions marked the end of another day of picketing. Doster once told an interviewer, Simmons’ song was “almost like a prayer of relief” for the workers, many of whom would join in, singing, “We will win our rights someday.”

Five difficult months later, after an unusually cold and wet Charleston winter, the strike ended. Workers received a nominal wage increase and small advances in the race-based restrictions for skilled jobs. Charleston workers received their retroactive pay, too. Perhaps most importantly, the workers gave hope to labor activists elsewhere, given that their actions attracted the attention and intervention of the federal government, yielded concessions from management, and for a time leveraged a coalition of black and white workers for the common good.

Shortly thereafter, during a visit to Highlander Folk School in Grundy County, TN, a school for labor organizers, members of Charleston’s Local 15 taught Simmons’ song to Highlander co-founder Zilphia Horton. Horton began to perform it at the school and taught it to Pete Seeger, who published it as “We Shall Overcome” in People’s Songs Bulletin. Introducing the song were the following words from Horton: “It was first sung in Charleston, SC….Its strong emotional appeal and simple dignity never fails to hit people. It sort of stops them cold silent.”

Seeger, director of the organization that published People’s Songs Bulletin, added the song to his performance catalog and performed it throughout his career. Joe Glazer, a folksinger known as “Labor’s Troubadour,” recorded it in 1950 and Guy Carawan taught the song to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960, thereby introducing it to the Civil Rights Movement.

datacacheGet information on HI2200 windows.

Download information about HI6800 windows.

Find out about Graham Architectural Products.

Tour the Cigar Factory.

Lighting For The Future

In use at Virginia Commonwealth Univ., TekDek luminaires from Kenall Manufacturing are designed specifically for parking structures and deliver excellent uniformity and vertical luminance for enhanced safety and security of garage patrons. In use at Virginia Commonwealth Univ., TekDek luminaires from Kenall Manufacturing are designed specifically for parking structures and deliver excellent uniformity and vertical luminance for enhanced safety and security of garage patrons.

When considering how to best update the lighting in Virginia Commonwealth Univ.’s (VCU) $17.3 million Jefferson Street parking deck in downtown Richmond, VA, VCU staff and architects at Baskervill, an architecture, interior design, and engineering firm in Richmond, agreed first priority was a high level of uniformity to ensure the safety and security of garage patrons and their property.

They also knew that energy reduction in the 689-space garage was a critical goal because of commitments made after the garage was built in 2008. In 2010, VCU signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). ACUPCC, now part of a larger group known as Second Nature, is an initiative founded in 2006 by twelve U.S. college and university presidents. Their goal was to encourage learning institutions to not only work toward achieving the scientific goal of climate neutrality, but to also educate and prepare students to develop new, sustainable solutions for energy-related projects on campus. Since its inception, more than 650 colleges and universities have signed the commitment.

As a signatory of ACUPCC, VCU has committed to be 100% carbon-neutral by 2050. Reducing electricity usage plays a major role in meeting this objective, since purchased electricity (generated mostly by coal and nuclear power) accounts for half of the school’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To accomplish this, VCU must cut energy consumption by 2%/yr. and seek alternative sources in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30% in 2025. Prior to signing ACUPCC, the university was already subject to Virginia’s Executive Order 48, signed in 2007, which required all state agencies to reduce energy costs by 25% by 2012. VCU achieved 100% of its goal on time, while realizing a cost savings of $1.6 million.

“Baskervill was the original architect when the parking garage was built. At that time, the emphasis was on high-intensity, high-footcandle lighting, rather than energy efficiency. Our challenge was to upgrade the whole facility to a modern LED system,” said Jay L. Woodburn, architect and principal at Baskervill.

At the start of the project, VCU staff installed and carefully evaluated LED luminaire samples from several manufacturers. They toured existing installations near Richmond, and all vendors submitted to a competitive-bid process before the university selected TekDek TD17 luminaires, designed and made by Kenall Manufacturing, Kenosha, WI. Further reinforcing VCU’s purchase decision was Kenall’s 10-yr. limited LED warranty that covers excessive lumen depreciation—as defined by L70 luminaire lifetime—resulting from defects in workmanship, materials, LED lamps, and internal power-regulation components.

With additional assistance from Richmond-based agency Lighting Virginia and Baskervill, VCU reduced the number of fixtures installed from 446 to 273. The old 175-W metal halide and induction lamps, 10% of which had already been re-lamped with LED bulbs, were replaced with 49-W LED luminaires. TekDek is designed specifically for parking structures and delivers excellent uniformity and vertical luminance for enhanced safety and security of garage patrons. Those involved with the project especially liked the fixture’s optics, which are designed to reduce disabling glare for drivers and pedestrians. “They really liked the fact that there were no hot spots and that you could stare right at the lights and not see the LEDs because of the [specially designed tertiary] lens,” said Woodburn.

In addition to the LED luminaires, VCU staff identified lighting controls as yet another way to conserve energy. “Diligence is very important to Baskervill, so our engineer, Richard Nelson, dug more deeply into the control systems available from each manufacturer to ensure that the controls fit all the needs of the project,” said Woodburn. TekLink TL1000 lighting controls, a cloud-based lighting-control system designed and manufactured by Kenall was chosen.

The new network of luminaires and controls further reduce power consumption by using occupancy sensors, which allow VCU to trim the lighting during periods when there are no students in the garage. TekLink lighting controls carefully monitor energy usage and allow the facility manager to adjust system settings using a simple user interface, accessible with a tablet, cell phone, or PC.

The ability to monitor the lighting remotely saves time compared to manually inspecting the lights. TekLink can also monitor power consumption and e-mail reports directly from the tablet. That means the days of hiring someone to drive around each parking garage to check for lights that are malfunctioning or out are over: “Perceived security is a very big deal to VCU and they are very on top of their maintenance, so unlike some other parking facilities that might let a third of the lights burn out before making repairs, they were fixing each individual light whenever there was an issue,” said Woodburn.

Installing TekDek and TekLink together also provides a level of simplicity and serviceability that isn’t easily found elsewhere, since everything is designed, built, and shipped by a single manufacturer. Carter Adams, principal at Lighting Virginia, added, “I think [for customers] the idea of being able to monitor all of their parking garages in one system has great appeal.”

Energy cost savings were significant from the beginning. In the first six months, savings steadily increased from 44.4% in August 2015 (the first month the luminaires were in use) to 55% in January 2016 after the TekLink control system was fully operational for two months. VCU is also installing TekDek luminaires and TekLink controls in the 984-space West Broad Street parking deck. The Broad Street garage provides public parking for commuters and visitors to the Monroe Park campus, Siegel Center sporting and special events, the VCU Welcome Center, and the street-level Barnes & Noble @VCU bookstore. Upon completion of the lighting upgrade on the West Broad Street deck, facilities staff will be able to monitor energy consumption, cost savings, and maintenance needs for both parking decks remotely with TekLink controls.

The new installation checks all the boxes: enhanced safety and security for the university’s parking-garage patrons as well as energy savings and reduced GHG emissions for the university.

datacacheDownload information on TekLink.

Download information on TekDek.

airbnb + go hasegawa’s yoshino cedar house vision to become bookable listing

airbnb + go hasegawa's yoshino cedar house vision to become bookable listing airbnb + go hasegawa’s yoshino cedar house vision to become bookable listing

house vision 2016 tokyo: airbnb is the first western company to be invited to participate in the second edition of house vision, an exhibition curated by japanese designer kenya hara, bringing together renowned names in the design and architecture industry to present ideas on the future of the home. the ‘yoshino-sugi cedar house’ is the first outcome of airbnb’s newly created multi-disciplinary innovation and design studio: samara. together with tokyo-based architect go hasegawa, the scheme focuses on a narrative directed at the town of yoshino in the nara prefecture.

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all images courtesy of airbnb / house vision 2
image © edward caruso

go hasegawa chose to use of yoshino cedar wood as the prominent material throughout the exterior and interior envelope of the build. the aim is for the scheme to foster new relationships in the town use architecture to engender a deeper relationship between hosts and guests. the first floor has been designed as an inviting open space, while the upper-level gabled-roof loft would cater to visitors and overnight guests. when the exhibit finishes, the cedar house will be relocated to a riverside location in yoshino and registered on airbnb as listing. in turn, it will be maintained by the village and proceeds earned from the guests will be used to strengthen the cultural legacy and future of the area, which has struggled as younger generations migrate away from rural towns.

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after its relocation, it will be maintained by the village & proceeds earned will be used to strengthen the cultural legacy 
image © edward caruso

‘we believe healthy communities are those that support each other, and we’re inventing new pathways  to enable this,’ comments joe gebbia, airbnb co-founder. ‘samara will give us even more experimental space to apply what we’ve learned over the last eight years and pioneer services for connection, commerce, and social change within and around the expanding airbnb community.’

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a suspended staircase leads up to the lofted rooms

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the project is the first by samara, a dedicated multi-disciplinary innovation and design studio within airbnb
image © edward caruso

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the whole interior is clad in yoshino cedar
image © edward caruso

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the upper loft area will cater for overnight stay – registered on airbnb

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the house realizes how architectural features can engender a deeper relationship between hosts and guests.
image © edward caruso

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joe gebbia, co-founder of airbnb pictured at the yoshino cedar house
image © edward caruso

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exploded axonometric of the scheme

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british airways i360 slender observation tower set to open in brighton

british airways i360 slender observation tower set to open in brighton british airways i360 slender observation tower set to open in brighton

it has been announced that the anticipated 162 meter high observation pod – the ‘british airways i360’ – is officially opening to the public early august 2016. located on the grade-I listed west pier in brighton, UK, the vertical pier was designed by david marks and julia barfield of marks barfield architects, recognized as the practice that conceived the famous london eye attraction.

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images © british airways i360 / drone images by visual air

acknowledged as the world’s most slender tower, the aim of the scheme is to provide locals and visitors a new and highly elevated experience of brighton and hove. taking 11 years to develop, marks barfield architects designed the british airways i360 to operate even in windy conditions. the perforated aluminum cladding around the tower diffuses and disrupts the wind flow to reduce wind-induced vibrations. in addition, dampers are installed inside the tower to prevent vibrations and state-of-the-art cable car technology drives the pod up and down, while energy is generated on its descent. the pod can carry up to 200 people per ride, where passengers can walk around freely around the space with uninterrupted views.

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the interior of the pod which can hold up to 200 people

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british airways i360 will play an important role in the regeneration of the regency square seafront in brighton

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the design draws on engineering and technologies associated with cable cars and tower cranes

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the construction of british airways i360 cost a total of £42.2 million

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passengers on british airways i360 will board a specially designed pod, ten times the size of a london eye capsule

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the new attraction is based on the seafront in brighton

project info:

start on site: july 2014
completion: july 2016

full project team
client: brighton i360 ltd
architect and supervisor: marks barfield architects
civil and structural engineer: jacobs uk
mep services engineer: jacobs uk
project manager: jacobs uk
cdm coordinator / pd: jacobs uk
local pm and civil engineer: helmsley orrell partnership
damping consultant: prof max irvine
pod consultant: nic bailey design
environmental consultant: loren butt consultancies
façade consultant: mott macdonald
lighting consultant: do architecture
planning consultant: dp9
cost consultant: rlf
main contractor: hollandia infra b.v (including design coordination)
steel tower: hollandia infra b.v (including connection design)
pod, drive & control system: pomagalski sas (design build subcontract)
foundations and visitor building: jt mackley & co (cdm principal contractor)

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reform studio designs contemporary furniture from handmade recycled material

reform studio designs contemporary furniture from handmade recycled material reform studio designs contemporary furniture from handmade recycled material

design indaba 2016: reform studio is a cairo-based design firm applauded for its sustainably developed products that validate the possibilities of sophisticated, recycled objects.

design indaba reform studio furniture recycled material designboom
a range of furniture is transformed by the vibrant plastex material developed by studio reform

the studio is influenced by design that has a positive impact on the environment, and has conceived plastex – a handmade material of woven reused plastic bags that have been reduced down to a thread-like form, and interwoven on a traditional egyptian handloom in-house. the durable and washable fabric informs the basis of reform studio‘s general style and contemporary range of furniture, which is characterized by the brightly colored textile that ‘aesthetically fits into our daily life, and innovatively preserves our resources‘; and ultimately, ‘raises awareness about how we define waste the possibilities behind reusing what was once destined to be trash‘.

design indaba reform studio furniture recycled material designboom
the durable, washable fabric characterizes the studio’s contemporary range of furniture

due to the varying dyes of the collected and donated plastic bags, plastex is multi-coloured and comes in four different types of patterns: plain, stripes, zebra and plaid. it is applied to reform studio’s eclectic range of furniture that includes: retro stools, arabic coffee shop-inspired chairs, scandinavian-style wooden benches, beautiful recycling bins and various textiles for the home.

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plastex comes four different types of patterns: plain, stripes, zebra and plaid

design indaba reform studio cairo plastex furniture designboom
retro stools are given new life with the multi-colored woven material
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a look at the diverse, colorful plastex textile

design indaba reform studio cairo plastex furniture designboom
‘grammy’s’ chair collection design indaba reform studio cairo plastex furniture designboom
each textile is uniquedesign indaba reform studio cairo plastex furniture designboom
‘grammy’s’ chair in plaid motifdesign indaba reform studio cairo plastex furniture designboom
‘grammy’s’ chair in plain and stripe motifdesign indaba reform studio cairo plastex furniture designboom
‘grammy’s chair’ in plain and zebra motif

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design indaba
is a multifaceted platform committed to a better world through creativity. the south-african online publication hosts an annual festival and social impact do tank in cape town. the design indaba festival has been created by ravi naidoo in 1995, with focus on african and global creativity, through the lens of the work and ideas of leading thinkers and doers, opinion formers, trendsetters and industry experts.

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so and so studio conceive YAC university island on the historical island of poveglia

so and so studio conceive YAC university island on the historical island of poveglia so and so studio conceive YAC university island on the historical island of poveglia

so and so studio have developed ‘YAC university island’ – a higher education facility positioned above the historical island of poveglia. the architecture project looks at ways to restore and make use of the existing octagonal geometry, by considering a number of factors including location, traditional heritage and the environmental possibilities contained within the land. the overall aim was to acknowledge and respect the rich and tragic layers of history that are buried in the development, whilst providing a new progressive vision for the peninsula.

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canal access

poveglia is located between venice and lido in the venetian lagoon in northern italy. the island is divided into two parts. so and so studio excavated this former trail, creating a unique canal system that allows accessibility to the existing venetian waterways. the campus floats above the land, dispensing a vaporous cloud of mist that feeds the eco-friendly laboratories below and revitalizes the abandoned farmland of the 1960’s.   

so and so studio YAC university island poveglia designboom
island courtyards

the physical structure houses labs, classrooms, a grand library, performance spaces and outside green areas. crops harvested on the fields are used in both the student and public cafeterias, which establishes an independent, self-sufficient network.

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first floor plan 

so and so studio YAC university island poveglia designboom
existing site plan 

so and so studio YAC university island poveglia designboom
new site plan

 so and so studio YAC university island poveglia designboom
site diagrams

so and so studio YAC university island poveglia designboom
program diagrams

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

edited by: hollie smith | designboom


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