Boston’s Energy-efficient Government Buildings: Leading By Example – LED lights illuminate the square concrete structure of Boston’s brutalist city hall, which has been renovated by local company Utile.
Boston architecture and planning studio Utile updated the civic building to coincide with its 50th anniversary this year.
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Boston’s Energy-efficient Government Buildings: Leading By Example
Completed in 1968 by Kallmann, McKinnell, and Knowles, Boston’s City Hall is an example of brutalist architecture in America. The complex structure features concrete inside and out, complete with an elevated atrium and walkway and a ticket portal overlooking the space below.
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“City Hall is recognized as one of the most important municipal buildings in the United States and is known internationally as an example of brutalism,” said the Utile team.
“The original design was intended to express a new and more transparent form of municipal government,” added the team. “Haunted concrete becomes a symbol of the building’s direct honesty as well as its civic monumentality.”
Utile partnered with the City of Boston Department of Public Facilities to create a team for the renovation project; The aim is to preserve many of the existing key features. Lam Partners is the lighting designer.
“The task of the project is to create a more pleasant and efficient public area not by replacing existing buildings, but by adding important features and adapting the structure to changing programs,” the team said.
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Exterior LED lighting by LumenPulse was added to draw attention to the structure’s tripartite facade at night and display a variety of colors.
Preserved details inside include square concrete ceilings and large concrete pillars that scale the open-plan complex.
The original floor tiles and rough concrete interior walls are also preserved to reference the original construction of the building, along with glass walls and other periods of brickwork.
Utile also consulted American architect Michael McKinnell, one of the original architects, for the project. “[McKinnell] was clear that the new design proposals needed to be bold,” said Utile architect Michael LeBlanc.
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Among the main changes is the reorganized lobby, designed as a grand entry with “furniture-like interventions”. Three curved rounded wooden volumes accommodate seating and security as well as a front desk and coffee bar. It is placed in the center of the lobby and helps guide foot traffic, making use of unused space.
Before the inspection, aspects such as entry, presence and security are close to each other and cause the middle of the place to be crowded. “Changes in technology and security have made the once open lobby cramped and unwelcoming,” the design team said.
The main floor was also expanded to include previously unused space, resulting in new space for security and x-ray scanning.
A new cafe kiosk is located on the main level next to the brick staircase, and there is more space to sit down and walk around. Stairs lead to the ticket station.
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New lighting was also added inside, along with new signage and branding on the permit, license, and ticket windows.
Kallmann, McKinnell, and Knowles designed Boston’s City Hall government building in the 1960s as a symbol of openness and transparency. The renovation project follows mixed opinions about the future of the building, with some Bostonians believing it to be useless and wanting it torn down. However, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has made revitalizing the building a priority, focusing on improving the building.
“It would be an understatement to say the design of Boston City Hall has been greatly underappreciated by Bostonians since it was first built,” LeBlanc said. “Negative public sentiment has been shaped and reinforced by local media coverage and nearly 50 years of non-strategic intervention.”
“The scheme makes it possible to start recasting public perception through a series of more interesting design initiatives,” added LeBlanc.
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With this sentiment, American architecture critic Aaron Betsky thought that the renovation work might give the Boston City Hall building a new appreciation in his Opinion column earlier this year.
Brutalism is an architectural movement in the latter half of the 20th century, and the buildings often have a rigid and concrete form. This style is common in post-World War II architecture, especially transportation buildings and civic complexes.
England has some famous brutalist buildings, including London’s National Theater and the Welbeck car park whose demolition caused an uproar in the architectural community. Recent preservation efforts include a cathedral in Bristol and a bus station in the north of the country.
Other brutalist buildings in the US are the Breuer tower in Connecticut owned by IKEA, Harvard University’s Carpenter Center by the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, San Diego’s Geisel Library and the Endo pharmaceutical laboratory on Long Island. Northeastern University’s Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex, Boston, MA How to build a laboratory that combines high performance with energy efficiency?
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Electrical Engineering Services Mechanical Engineering Public health, hydraulics and plumbing Lighting design Building envelope and facade design Facade engineering and design
Provide a comprehensive strategy for the Northeast University Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex (ISEC). This LEED Gold-certified, 234,000ft
Facilities include a variety of laboratories and other research support spaces intended to promote collaboration and innovation in the fields of computer science, basic science, health science, and engineering.
In addition to helping Northeastern raise its profile in the scientific community and attract new talent, the project provides a pedestrian bridge—an important new nodal connection between the main campus, ISEC, and the communities of Fenway and Roxbury.
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Collaborating with Payette on both new buildings and footbridges, providing services including structural, geotechnical, MEP/FP engineering, façades, and lighting design consulting.
Our involvement in the ISEC project began in 2013 when we were selected by Payette and Northeastern to provide a range of services for the new complex, including mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering, energy modeling, façade consulting, sustainability consulting, and lighting design. It is important to clients that ISEC embodies Northeastern’s commitment to sustainability. and Payette collaborated closely throughout the design process to deliver a striking and highly energy efficient building on a tight schedule.
In the early stages of the project, we developed a 3D Revit model of the building system that allowed the team to quickly estimate the impact of several configurations in real time. These models allow us to efficiently adapt to changing client and architect requirements and help accelerate the identification of strategies that provide the best form and function. Revit 3D models are also used as the backbone for energy models, cloud models, CFD studies and facade analysis.
Develop a number of innovative solutions that improve the sustainability of the project and help maximize overall value for the university and the larger community.
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One of the distinctive features of ISEC is the complex facade. Curved copper fins traverse the curved office block, with undulating plans and splits in elevation to create a free form. To achieve the elegant organic form of ISEC, and Payette relies heavily on modeling to overcome technical challenges.
Our Revit models are particularly helpful in determining how to seamlessly integrate fins into building engineering in a way that maximizes energy performance. The fins contribute to the light and thermal strategy by reducing the direct solar gain from the southwest while allowing views out and clouds in. In combination with high-performance glass curtain walls and building mechanical systems, the fins balance the facade’s thermal, daylighting, and comfort performance requirements. They also cover maintenance roads, protect the office’s insulated glass units from direct exposure to the elements, and hang significant cantilevers.
The cascade air system developed is the biggest contributor to energy savings at ISEC. The system works by recovering the conditioned air from the ISEC office and atrium and then transferring it to the laboratory. In addition to significant energy savings over standard laboratory HVAC systems, cascade air systems help reduce operating and capital costs by reducing return ducts. Since the ventilation load is the main energy use in the laboratory, active cold beams are used to provide additional cooling in place of air cooling. As the cooling beam has no moving parts, it is a low-maintenance alternative to fan coil units. To increase the heating, we designed a hydronic coil system that can generate energy from the lab exhaust air and use it to pre-condition the outdoor air used for heating. Heat recovery chillers are also used to divert heat that would normally be rejected to the cooling tower to meet the building’s heat demand.
Sustainable lighting and lighting strategies are essential to maximize the efficiency of architectural design. The six-story central atrium was carefully created with Payette to introduce views to the sky and provide ample light, while also managing the visual comfort of the laboratory and support spaces. The result is an interior glass facade that puts the researchers in full view from the atrium space. The electric lighting design further compliments the building design strategy by using integrated lighting on the lab bench, and especially indirect lighting for ambient light levels in the research area.
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Provides a key link between the campus, the ISEC complex directly to the south, and the Fenway neighborhood and
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