Question by Kitchen/Bath Designer: As a commercial architect what is your primary goal when designing a building envelope?
Apart from taking into consideration the clients needs do you feel that in todays environment it is necessary to present a “green” solution? Do you find that current “green” products do not provide the same design options as conventional products? What are your opinions on current design trends with regards to “green” vs. conventional products?
Answer by J.
Actually, the clients needs and wants dictate everything- as an architect you are just the hired gun to draw the building blueprints or diazos. You may influence the exterior appearance, but it still needs to meet the criteria of the people who hired you.
As for materials, they are going to vary widely, green product options just provide you more options. The makers of those products seek to produce profitably an item that will be accepted as a full replacement for the less green material, so it has to meet the same physical criteria. LEED certified insulation for example, if it meets the criteria of flamability and is adequate for use in an application, it’s performance as insulation in and of itself is no different than the non LEED item it replaces. Most often the difference is it just costs more.
The design dictates the materials used, not the other way around. Frank Lloyd Wright was a one off individual. In this world today, someone tries what he did with clients- he loses the clients. What he did with materials, that is another matter, but his weakness was he did not have a background in material science to know what the structural deficiencies were for “Falling Water” when it was being built (deficiencies noted in the restoration a number of years ago.) He tried to be innovative with materials; the Johnson Wax building is a perfect example. He was crippled by the limitations of some of the materials availble to him at the time.
Which is why today you hire structural engineers to go over designs.
Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!
Tags:architect, Building, Commercial, designing, Envelope, goal, Green, Primary, Solutions