Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Sustainable is so 1956
The Crown Hall at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) was recently discovered to be sustainable upon completion in 1956, though subsequent changes to the building had decreased its functionality.
Mies van der Rohe designed the building to reflect the Modern style that was en vogue at the time, but used techniques that were clearly ahead of his time when it came to natural lighting and radiant heating. Over the years the radiant heating had gotten old, and had been replaced with cheaper, less efficient systems. Trees along the south west side of the building had been cut down to expand the driveway, and natural light that was once welcomed on the hand-drawing tables and classrooms had become a nuisance when students turned to using computers. Recently, (IIT) hired environmentally friendly design firm Atelier Ten to evaluate the old building and determine what steps were necessary to improve the performance of the building without changing the aesthetics.
What they uncovered was evidence that simple design with the intention of efficiency had made Crown Hall a sustainable building even by our current standards. Once the original systems had been returned to their functions, all that was left was to increase the amount of control students had over lighting, windows, and heating. The energy efficiency increased by 50% simply with these measures.
With intentional design and proper maintenance, the green revolution is beautiful, affordable and not some distant technology yet to be discovered. It's 1950's Modern.
full article at NY's AIA newsletter eOculus