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DEFECTS CROPPING UP IN SEATTLE BUILDINGS
Seattle's new City Hall and Justice Center, both touted as cutting edge and environmentally friendly, are suffering from defects that range from serious to annoying. Boilers have exploded. Air conditioners don't work right. A natural ventilation system hasn't worked. Neither have the light shelves. A much-ballyhooed green roof turned brown. Although City Councilman Richard Conlin is concerned about these issues, overall, he said he was "pretty happy" with the way the new Civic Center buildings have turned out. "We're kind of on the cutting edge of some of these design issues. It's not surprising some of it hasn't worked as well as we'd hoped and needs adjusting," Conlin said. Several problems are related to heating and air conditioning control systems that leave some offices too hot and some too cold. The equipment was supposed to be more energy efficient, but right now "tenants are uncomfortable and we are wasting money heating/cooling air that is not reaching the end user," a city report says. The glass-entryway added to the base of the Seattle Municipal Tower has been plagued by a "poorly designed" natural ventilation system. Designed without heaters and dehumidification, the area has condensation and wet floors, posing risks. City Hall's light shelves installed on west-facing windows are causing glare and heat and are "viewed as both imposing and ugly by occupants." The cost to replace them with standard lighting is estimated at $590,000.
The Seattle Times, 24 Apr 05, by Jim Brunner.
HOUSE VOTES TO APPROVE BROAD ENERGY LEGISLATION
The House approved broad energy legislation on April 21 that seeks to improve the reliability of the electrical grid, increase domestic energy production and save power by
extending daylight saving time. The measure, which passed on a 249-to-183 vote, was authored by Republicans, including Representative Joe L. Barton, Texas, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Many Democrats and some Republicans said the measure, which provides $8 billion in tax breaks to energy producers and billions of dollars more in direct federal aid, was too friendly to industry and gave short shrift to energy efficiency and renewable fuels. "Instead of helping the American people save money, the bill is loaded with tax breaks and royalty relief for oil and gas companies," said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, House Democratic leader. The White House said it "strongly supports" the House bill, though in its official critique it expressed reservations about the amount of the tax breaks, which exceed President Bush's budget request by about $1.3 billion. Senate energy leaders say that they seek a measure that could win a larger consensus than the bill the House adopted and that they are considering hearings next month. The House bill would allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an issue that has killed past energy legislation. Senate Republicans are hoping to win approval for the Alaska drilling by advancing it in a budget measure that cannot be filibustered. Barton said he would like a final measure sent to the president by August.
The New York Times, 22 Apr 05, by Carl Hulse
MUSEUM CONSTRUCTED OF SHIPPING CONTAINERS AND PAPER PILLARS
It sounds like something a kid might dream up: a structure made of shipping containers, with cardboard tubes that serve as pillars. But the Nomadic Museum on Pier 54 in Manhattan was designed by a grown-up—one who is being recognized for his contribution to architecture. The temporary museum on the Hudson River was built to house 'Ashes and Snow'—an exhibition comprising large-scale photographs by Gregory Colbert. The structure also is an introduction for many Americans to Shigeru Ban, the Japanese architect known for his work with recyclable and reusable materials, particularly paper. When approached by Colbert to design the Nomadic Museum, Ban applied a technique he'd used on a smaller scale—one that allows the building to be dismantled and shipped to its next stop using some of the 148 containers that make up its walls. Ban's work reflects his desire not to waste anything as well as his concern for balancing expensive projects for wealthy clients against simpler ones for underserved people.
The Christian Science Monitor, 29 Apr 05, by Kim Campbell.
CREATIVE DESIGN KEY TO LAND RECLAMATION AND REUSE PROJECTS
A new exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) gives a vivid tour of large-scale land reclamation and reuse projects worldwide. Groundswell: Constructing the Contemporary Landscape documents 23 projects completed or underway in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Many occupy sites that were previously off limits, such as industrial plants, military airstrips and landfills; others arise from disasters both natural and manmade. On view through May 16, Groundswell is organized into three thematic sections: "Designing the Urban Stage," which looks at town squares and plazas; "Simulations of Nature and New Topographies," which seeks to negotiate between the artificial and the natural; and the "Bad and the Beautiful," a group of projects that reinvent polluted sites. In Shanghai, China, for example, Tom Leader Studio with Michael Duncan of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill lines a sunken plaza with a 650-foot-long "carpet" of recycled building materials. As MOMA curator Peter Reed points out in his wall text, the common ingredient in these diverse efforts is a "surge of creativity" through landscape design long missing from the making of civic space. And that surge is rooted to an abiding desire—on the part of many designers, planners and public offices—to better steward our resources, take back our waterfronts and remind ourselves the value of design in the public realm.
Architecture, April 05, p 33, by Abby Bussel.
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