BUILT ENVIRONMENT

LA Metro’s First Secure Bike Parking Station

The El Monte Bike Hub will have 24/7 access, 56 bicycle spaces, accessory sales and is stocked with all the tools needed for commuter to do repairs. Photo Credit:  Metro

The El Monte Bike Hub will have 24/7 access, 56 bicycle spaces, accessory sales and is stocked with all the tools needed for commuter to do repairs. Photo Credit: Metro

L.A. METRO ANNOUNCES GRAND OPENING OF ITS VERY FIRST “METRO BIKE HUB” AT SAN GABRIEL VALLEY’S BUSY EL MONTE STATION

As part of The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (Metro) commitment to enhancing bicycle infrastructure in the L.A. region, Metro today celebrated the official opening of its very first “Metro Bike Hub,” a dedicated, full-service, secure-access, high-capacity bicycle parking facility at the El Monte Station, the busiest transit hub in the San Gabriel Valley.

The new $635,000, 1,100+ square-foot facility is conveniently located in prime ground-floor retail space at the front of El Monte Station, the largest bus facility west of Chicago.  The facility will provide a full suite of bicycle-related services including controlled entry for 56 bicycles under closed-circuit TV surveillance, peak-hour staff availability, folding bike rentals, same-day repairs, accessory sales and bike-related classes.  The facility adds 60 percent greater bicycle parking capacity to the station. -
LA Metro

 

After doubling its size in October 2012, El Monte Station has become the busiest transit hub in the San Gabriel Valley. Photo Credit:  RNL

After doubling its size in October 2012, El Monte Station has become the busiest transit hub in the San Gabriel Valley. Photo Credit: RNL

The next four Metro Bike Hubs planned to open at high-demand transit stations across Los Angeles County will be at:

  • Hollywood/Vine
  • Culver City Expo Line Station
  • Los Angeles Union Station
  • North Hollywood Red/Orange Line Station

 

Biophilia of the Week

A mountain top museum that commemorates the evolution of modern mountaineering.

Photo Credit: Werner Huthmacher

Photo Credit: Werner Huthmacher

Typically, you wouldn't scale a mountain because of a building at the top, but this cast in-situ museum in South Tyrol is calling.

A hotel in the modern Singapore skyline that looks to fulfill its civic duty.

Photo Credit: Patrick Bingham-Hall

Photo Credit: Patrick Bingham-Hall

Singapore-based WOHA Architects have long been advocates of the ultimate ‘green city’ – one that would be comprised of more vegetation than if it were left as wilderness – and the PARKROYAL on Pickering was designed as a hotel-as-garden that actually doubled the green-growing potential of its site. - WOHA

A Vietnam day spa lush with hanging gardens and pools of water.

Photo Credit:  Hiroyuki Oki

Photo Credit: Hiroyuki Oki

Yes, it's a spa, but it could be the DMV and I would still feel serenity-now in this building.

Source: Dezeen

A rainbow pathway cheers up a gloomy Monday commute in London.

Photo Credit:  Spark Your City

Photo Credit: Spark Your City

So, this is stretching the definition of 'in-direct connection to nature' a bit, but it does look somewhat like a rainbow. During the rainy, gloomy week we have had in Denver I think this would have made an awesome addition to our plaza outside the Denver office.

Source: Inhabitat

How Low Can You Flow?

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the headline. But seriously,

the California Energy Commission has voted on water efficiency standards for shower heads that will be the highest in the country:

Current rules, established in 1994 at the federal level, allow a maximum flow of 2.5 gallons per minute from a shower head. Effective next July, the limit will fall to 2.0 gallons per minute and will be reduced again in July 2018, to 1.8 gallons, giving California the toughest standard of any U.S. state. - LA Times

About 30% of fixtures currently available meet this new requirement. According to the NRDC, this new GPM limit will save California as much water annually as the city of San Francisco uses per year. That is, if anyone in CA is still showering by this time next year. #CAdrought and all.

Bees & The City

Who would have thought…Honey bees in urban environments have a 12.5% higher survival rate, are healthier, and produce 56% more honey than bees in rural environments. This is thought to be due to access to greater bio-diversity, and less widespread use of insecticides containing neonicotinoids, in urban areas. We all know how important bees are to our food chain with 50-80% of the world’s food supply directly or indirectly pollinated by honey bees. How can we incorporate bees into our urban projects? Head over to our UDLA folks and talk pollinator plants for any landscaped areas, or green roofs. If you have a client that is interested in on-site food production, add some on-site beekeeping! 

photo credit: Lance Cheung

photo credit: Lance Cheung

Biophilia of the Week

This week we go super-size-me biophilia big!

Thomas Heatherwick reveals his plans to build a Maggie's cancer-care centre in Yorkshire, England.

Image Credit:  Thomas Heatherwick

Image Credit: Thomas Heatherwick

Described as "a collection of stepped planter elements", his design comprises a series of curved structures that each feature rooftops covered in plants and flowers.
The aim is to take advantage of the therapeutic effect of plants, creating a welcoming facility that stands in contrast to the more sterile environment of the adjacent hospital. - Dezeen
 

CTBUH recently named CapitaLand building as a regional winner in its 2015 Best Tall Buildings Awards.

CapitaGreen, a 40-storey tower in Singapore, winner of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat 2015 Best Buildings Award.  I read the description quickly and thought it said the flora-inspired structure on the roof added a decorative scent, instead of accent. Considering it looks like a red pineapple I immediately imagined the office floors smelling like Pina Colada’s. Love it or leave it, the double-skin curtain wall with vegetation over half the façade will make a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of people in the offices. Neighboring buildings get a secondary benefit from the view-of-biophilia too.

Source: Architect

Photo Credit:  CTBUH

Photo Credit: CTBUH

A love for trees and religion.

Photo Credit:  Barry Cox

Photo Credit: Barry Cox

While some aspire for grand pools or tranquil gardens in their backyards, New Zealand resident, Barry Cox, had other ideas for a 3-acre space in his own yard. Yearning for an old stone church like those he had admired on his travels through Europe, Cox united his passions for religion and tree relocation to create a 100-seat chapel at his Ohaupo, New Zealand home made almost entirely from mature trees. According to the New Zealand Gardener, as a child, Cox wanted to be the Pope, but instead, settled for the position of head altar boy in his hometown church. His interest in Christianity, coupled with his encyclopedic knowledge of trees, came full circle in the creation of Tree Church. - The Dirt

An organic installation by Henrique Oliveira at the Palais de Tokyo museum in Paris.

MORE GREEN, LESS WEIGHT, WIN-WIN FOR GREEN ROOFS

Chicago may favor deep-dish for its pizza, but a company is going thin crust for its green roofs and living walls. The Omni Ecosystems Green Roof technology grows more plant options in half the weight of conventional green roof systems. With installations in Chicago the system is clearly being tested under some of the harsher conditions in the U.S (hot summers, cold winters, high winds). The benefit of the lighter weight and more concentrated plant diversity is wider applicability on existing buildings where significant structural upgrades to the roof may not be possible. The same technology is applied to their living walls, with equally appealing financial benefits:

“Whereas most living wall products require constant plant replacement - as much as 100 percent every six months - our system has required less than six percent in the 18 months since installation”

Whether these claims bear the test of time, their next partnership is exciting in that it sets up a PPA-like relationship between roof owners and a group called Roof Crop:

“Building owners meet their green roof obligations for sustainable development in the City of Chicago, receive rent from The Roof Crop as the “roof tenant,” and have a reliably maintained green roof. The net effect is a green roof that pays for itself and is truly maintenance-free for the building owner”

Their first leased rooftop farm was recently installed in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood.

And their Omni Tapestry living wall wins Biophilia of the Week Award…

photo courtesy of Omni Ecosystems

photo courtesy of Omni Ecosystems

LIVING BUILDING CHALLENGE AND THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING MARKET

The International Living Future Institute announced Thursday the projects it has selected for the Living Building Challenge Affordable Housing Pilot Project.  From now through Dec 31st 2016, the ILFI will work with the design teams of each project, ranging from SRO to Multi-Family and Mixed-Use, providing Living Building Challenge education, membership, a charrette, DD and CD phase documentation reviews. Tracking these projects, it will be interesting to see how the principles of the Living Building Challenge are applied to projects with significantly lower budgets than the signature projects that are publicized to date.

I hope they are all a success, and the results strengthen the challenging financial argument for pursuing this admirable rating system. 

photo courtesy of living-future.org

photo courtesy of living-future.org

A VERY DYNAMIC PASSIVE HOUSE

Architect Todd Fix wanted to create a net zero energy passive house that didn’t look like your typical passive house (small windows, thick walls). Mission accomplished.

This is a house for those who are invested in moving parts. Really invested, at $2.5-5mil for construction costs alone.

I question the claim ‘Being in an all-glass house also dramatically cuts the amount of electricity needed’ when you consider peak winter and summer temperatures. But all is forgiven by this feature “Underneath the house, a "microclimate pool" cools the house by evaporation. If the house is built on the beach, it will have a custom slide inside that leads directly down to the sand.” If I had $5mil to spend on a house, then hell yes it would be built on a beach. 

image courtesy of fastcompany.com

image courtesy of fastcompany.com

THE WRITING ON THE (BIOPHILIC) WALL

3D printing is all the rage right now, with applications ranging from the awesome to the absurd. This one caught my attention as a fun way to combine signage and biophila. Be warned, before the grass grows they look like coils of dog turds, so you might want to consider some the lead time before opening day on your next project.

MODULAR, URBAN SCALE, SHADE STRUCTURES

A modular, sculptural approach to shade structures. Elegant and simple yet highly functional – Shade! PVs! Directional Breezes! Let’s hope the solar geometry math was right and they work. Phoenix is not a city you want to mess around with when it comes to shade. My one question is if there is a lot of reflection (and glare) off the metal? Field trip the Phoenix office…

photo credit: Matt Winquist

photo credit: Matt Winquist