Volume 4, No. 8 - July 22, 2010
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BLAST - News and Notes from AIA Northern Virginia

Maginniss + del Ninno Architects
Gaithersburg Youth Center, by Maginniss + del Ninno Architects (more info)
In This Issue

Lumenhaus Triumphs Overseas

Interschool Design Competition 2010

Featured Project: Gaithersburg
    Youth Center


Visit the AIANOVA Website

The Virginia Tech 'Lumenhaus' Wins Solar Decathlon Europe
by Matt Shuba

The latest stop on the Lumenhaus international tour may have been the most rewarding. After visits to the National Mall, Times Square and the National Building Museum, Virginia Tech's Solar Decathlon entry was carefully packed and shipped to Madrid, where it took top honors in the Solar Decathlon Europe competition.

Virginia Tech took the top prize from among seventeen schools, with two German teams rounding out the top three. Lead Project Coordinator and Virginia Tech associate professor Joe Wheeler said that the win in "a competition based on design, energy and sustainability is a significant achievement since Europe often has led the way in alternative energy research."

"That we won over schools from Germany, the world's leader in alternative energy, is most rewarding," according to professor Bob Dunay, FAIA, director of the Center for Design Research and a primary Virginia Tech Lumenhaus team faculty member. It was Technische Universität Darmstadt (Germany) who finished first overall in the US Solar Decathlon last October in Washington, DC after winning the 2007 competition as well.

The cutting edge Lumenhaus employs familiar green techniques such as strategic insulation, natural/cross ventilation, passive heating, and integrated geothermal energy sink. But it employs unique innovations as well, such as the house's proprietary Eclipsis System, an assembly of stainless steel panels with an array of laser-cut rotated discs that conceals a secondary layer of insulation and LED lighting. The roof is home to a photovoltaic array that can adjust seasonally (or in this case geographically) to best respond to the sun's orientation. According to Mr. Wheeler, "the adjustable photovoltaic array, combined with geothermal coupled with a heat pump, makes the system a universal design. Realistically the house can be located anywhere in the world without compromising living comfort or energy efficiency."

The marriage of technology and design was critcal to the success of the project. Architecture jury chair Glenn Murcutt praised the "enjoyable variations in habitation and use, subtle adjustments of light, privacy, and aesthetic expression," and commented that Lumenhaus showed intelligence in development of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House, which inspired the pavilion design. "Lumenhaus basically is a transparent box that answers the question, can a glass house be energy efficient?" said Mr. Dunay. "Our holistic and integrated approach in designing Lumenhaus allowed us to develop a house that generates more energy than it uses - a net zero energy house." The Virginia Tech house was awarded first place in the Architecture category after a strong third-place finish (out of twenty) in the same category in the US competition.

"Lumenhaus won because it's not just a smart house, it's a smart design," said Mr. Wheeler. "It shows people how to live comfortably in a smaller house with the amenities of a larger house thus saving energy." Mr. Dunay adds that it underscores "that you can live in a smaller, energy-cutting footprint and still have a gracious and articulate space."

Learn more at www.lumenhaus.com.

This article includes quotations first appearing in Spotlight on Innovation, accessible via the Virginia Tech website here.The Virginia Tech Lumenhaus team consists of faculty, undergraduate and graduate students from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, the College of Engineering and the Pamplin College of Business. Photography by Matt Vibberts.

Help Open Doors by Sponsoring Interschool Design Competition 2010

Over the past two decades the Washington area chapters of the AlA, the Washington Architectural Foundation, the National Building Museum and the area's four accredited architecture schools have collaborated to organize the annual Inter-School Design Competition.

The competition has celebrated an unusual coalition of architecture schools, local professionals and cultural institutions, and has provided a weekend of fun and creativity where students who have just met each other can learn, debate, create and collaborate.

Forty students from Catholic University of America, Howard University, Virginia Tech WAAC and the University of Maryland at College Park will again participate in a unique design competition juried by Warren T. Byrd, FASLA, CLARE, and other local professionals. This fall, the competition's theme is "An Architecture of Diplomacy" as students collaborate in teams and ponder how design can promote a dialogue among nations.

Consider sponsorship with a financial contribution to help make the 2010 student competition possible. In the coming days and weeks, a representative from the AlA Northern Virginia Schools Connections Committee will contact you to discuss how you can make a difference. Or contact the Chapter at aianova@aianova.org for more information.

Featured Project

Gaithersburg Olde Towne Youth Center
Maginniss + del Ninno Architects
Gaithersburg, MD

When the City of Gaithersburg planned a new afterschool Youth Center, they devised a program sure to engage teens: a self sustaining environment where students teach other students the complexities of music production. Maginniss + del Ninno Architects leveraged this unique program into a highly efficient and vibrant Youth Center.

"The City originally hoped to attain [LEED®] Silver certification with this building," said Michele Potter, Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation. "Through the vision of our elected leadership, the diligent effort of staff and our capable design and construction team, we were able to achieve Platinum certification demonstrating our commitment to our youth and the future of their environment."

Designed to serve the next generation of a growing urban neighborhood, the new Youth Center spaces nourish the myriad needs of today's energetic and technically savvy teens. The City's cable network manages and shares the media production facilities, providing adolescents exposure to the professional media. Students migrate freely in the open plan between the mixing & recording studio, the music computer lab, the game and art rooms and quiet lounge. Custom mobile furniture converts areas into open space to support dance concerts. Aluminum and glass overhead doors, recalling garage rock bands, allow both flexibility and privacy.

The site, originally an overflow parking lot, is located in an architecturally eclectic neighborhood of industrial storage facilities, multi-family housing and wood-framed single family homes. The geometry of the plan responds to these different edge conditions as well as maximizing favorable orientation for the sustainable design features of the project.

Visible from Diamond Avenue (a main street of Olde Town Gaithersburg), is a low-slope vegetated roof as well as a steeper roof with photovoltaic panels. Other significant features of the sustainable design program include light harvesting, a ground-coupled heat pump system and use of recycled and rapidly renewable materials.

AIA Northern Virginia's Women in Architecture Committee is hosting a tour of the center led by Theresa del Ninno, AIA, on July 31, at 10:00a. The Youth Center is located at 301 Teachers Way in downtown Gaithersburg, Maryland. All are welcome to this free tour, but registration is required. If interested please email reservations@aianova.org. This building tour offers 1.5 AIA/CES HSW/SD learning units.
Photography by Eric Taylor, Assoc. AIA

Sponsored by Victor O. Schinnerer & Company, Inc., the CNA Insurance Companies, The AIA Trust, providers of the AIA Commended Program of Professional Liability Insurance, Draper Aden Associates, Ferguson Enterprises and Gilbane Building Company.

July 23 - Small Firm Seminar Series: High Performance Houses - Options for the Building Envelope
10:00a-2:30p, at ITT Technical Institute, 7300 Boston Boulevard, Springfield, in conference room Theory 1. This program is the first in a continuing series of seminars that will be hosted jointly by TW Perry (Building Supply Company) and the Small Firms Committee of AIA Northern Virginia. This seminar series will feature four AIA approved presentations focusing on various components of the building envelope in wood-framed residential structures. 4 AIA/CES HSW/SD LUs available. Registration and payment ($20 members/$40 non-members) required by emailing reservations@aianova.org. For additional program details and information, please view the listing on the Chapter website here.

Please be advised there is a detour on Fullerton Road. Coming from 495: exit Backlick Road / Fullerton Road, continue south on Backlick Road, turn right to Boudinot Drive, turn right to Fullerton Road, turn left to Boston Boulevard.

July 31 - Gaithersburg Youth Center Tour
10:00a, at the Gaithersburg Youth Center, 301 Teachers Way, Gaithersburg, MD. The AIA Northern Virginia Women in Architecture Committee and Virginia Society WiD invite you to tour the new LEED® Platinum Youth Center, designed by the Alexandria firm Maginniss + del Ninno Architects. Learn more about the project in the article above. All are welcome to attend this free tour, but registration is required. If interested, please email reservations@aianova.org. 1.5 AIA/CES HSW/SD learning units are available for the tour.

August 3-5 - DesignDC
At the Washington Convention Center. The 6th annual DesignDC promises to expand on the successful format of previous conferences, offering a wide selection of continuing education seminars and an interactive exhibition offering cutting-edge information. Co-sponsored by AIA Northern Virginia, AIA/DC + AIA Potomac Valley. Click here for complete conference information.

August 18 - Women in Architecture Happy Hour
6:00-8:00p. If you would like to receive information, please email WIA at wia@aianova.org.

For additional information on any of these events, please contact the Chapter House at (703) 549-9747 or aianova@aianova.org. The Chapter House is located at 205 South Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.