If it’s Not Beautiful, it’s Not Sustainable?

Lucas Hamilton

Let’s face it – we don’t take care of things that are ugly. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, correct? Then why is it some things are universally agreed upon to be beautiful?

When we consider the buildings of the world which we all look to as a part of our shared heritage, I struggle to think of any that are not beautiful. Sometimes we get lucky and points germane are captured in a first draft. When talking about buildings in general we need to look to the Romans who were the definers of architecture.  For them three rules applied:

  • A building must be durable.
  • Serve the purposes of the people inside.
  • It must be aesthetically pleasing.

Today we may add a fourth requirement which is sustainability but as the title of this blog suggests, you won’t get sustainability without beauty. To understand beauty we must have a working knowledge of aesthetics. One of the things we know to be true is that aesthetics remain consistent. It is style that changes. Style is an expression of aesthetic principles based on a current philosophy, trend or societal influence.

A great example of this can be found in Chicago on the river with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe‘s IBM Tower.  Directly behind it is the Marina City complex which was designed by his protégé Bertrand Goldberg. Having a teacher and student design side-by-side doesn’t happen often so it is a fascinating place to observe the style change that took place from one generation to the next. It’s like we need to show our teachers and our parents that “we’ve heard, we’ve learned, and we’ve grown.”

As a society, we are seeing a shift in style once again.  Prior to the great recession, many people where building McMansion style homes which were the expression of more, more, more – look at what I have accomplished or gained. 

Now, we are seeing a maturity to the thinking – wouldn’t my life be easier if it were simpler? This is manifesting itself in a smaller footprint of our homes. We’re choosing darker colors to make our homes appear smaller and using coordinated palettes to bring the sense of harmony we seek.

I believe as a result we will create a generation of homes which will hold their aesthetic appeal much better than the recent phase.

Do you think that in 50 years anyone is going to be chaining themselves to a bulldozer to prevent a McMansion from being torn down?

Lucas Hamilton is Manager, Building Science Applications for CertainTeed Corporation

The 2012 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Convention and Design Expo Takes on the Nation’s Capital

 
 

Lucas Hamilton

Lucas Hamilton is Manager, Building Science Applications for CertainTeed Corporation

The 2012 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Convention and Design Exposition was held in Washington, D.C this year.  The show was jam packed with exhibitors and educational programs for architects and design professionals and, according to early estimates, attracted 30 percent more attendees than last year’s event which was held in New Orleans.  Could it be the location?  Could it be an improved building environment?  It is hard to say but the show appeared to be busy.

The Saint-Gobain booth this year had a listening room component and we had experts from several of our businesses CertainTeed, ADFORS, Grenite, Norton, SAGE, Saint-Gobain Glass, Saint-Gobain Solar, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and SolarGard who stood ready to help architects solve their unsolvable problems.  This was a new concept which created some interesting conversations in our ‘listening rooms’ – pod-like areas to sit and hold private conversations.

I was speaking with an architect in our booth about a variety of products and systems when he spied my name tag and exclaimed, “you’re the guy who does the webinars. It’s great to actually meet you.”  Since our webinars only provide a photo of me on the title page and frankly I’ve got a face made for radio, I was surprised that he would recognize me. He provided some valuable feedback about why he thought our CertainTeed webinar series, which is part of our Continuing Education program, provided him not only with valuable credits for his continuing education credentialing, but also information that he can put into practice as an architect.  I really appreciated the feedback and it’s rewarding to know that what we are sharing with people is helping them every day.

I would say that we are beginning to see an improvement in the design community especially from markets such as education, healthcare and multi-family housing.  At least Washington, D.C looked like building projects were in abundance.

If you have thoughts about the industry or comments about our CertainTeed webinar series, I would love to hear from you.

Social Media Mavens at the 2012 AIA Convention & Design Exposition

Twitter activity was most definitely a flutter last week at the 2012 AIA Convention & Design Exposition in Washington D.C. Using the social media-monitoring tool, UberVU, we extrapolated some interesting insight from the Twitter activity at the show. For example, a report on activity using the #AIA2012 hash tag showed that:

  • There were 5,528 tweets from May 10-21 — just prior and one day after the show.
  • 36 percent of mentions were re-tweets.
  • Nearly half of all tweets occurred on the first day of the show, May 18.
  • New York-based architect Vanesa Alicea posted the most frequently, with 141 tweets.
  • Of all of the Twitter accounts active during the show, Architectural Record magazine has the largest following, with a whopping 323,335 followers.

All in all, we enjoyed following and participating in the Twitter stream to keep a pulse on the show, however, we were most fortunate to have in-person conversations that spanned well beyond 140 characters!

New Product Snapshot from 2012 AIA Expo

For the past several years, Snap magazine has organized a “Say it in a Snap” session at the AIA Expo, offering building product manufacturers a chance to talk about their newest product innovations. Products showcased this year demonstrated a broad array of form and function:

  • Sherwin Williams announced the expansion of their environmentally conscious paint products — Emerald TM zero-VOC interior paint.
  • BluWorld of Water shared a new white paper that dispels some of the microbial concerns around water features in health care settings.
  • Construction Specialties launched two new louver products that offered very distinct design aesthetics.

Architectural Record Makes Photo-sharing Easy

Whether it’s Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter, photo-sharing is most definitely in vogue. While all of these networks create a sense of community and connectedness in their own special way, Architectural Record magazine has launched a photo-sharing mobile app designed specifically for architects and designers. At the 2012 AIA Convention and Design Exposition, the Architectural Record editorial team touted the new tool, which is available, free-of-charge via iTunes.

Google SketchUp Brings Design Inspirations to Life

Architects are known for having boundless imaginations when conceptualizing their designs. Traditionally, they have put pen to paper to bring their ideas to life. However, a growing trend is to use Google SketchUp — as evidenced by the bustling flow of traffic in their booth at the 2012 AIA Convention and Design Exhibition. An inituitive, easy-to-use tool, Google SketchUp is used to create quick 3-D imagery for conceptual stages of design. It also includes a repository of 3-D building objects — the Google 3D Warehouse — that expedites the design process. Building product manufacturers, including CertainTeed, are making brand-specific building objects available through the warehouse to more closely align concepts with real-world applications. Is Google SketchUp the wave of the future? We’re interested in hearing your thoughts.

Design Inspiration at 2012 AIA Expo

Spend only a few minutes at 2012 AIA Expo and you’re sure to be inspired. Revolutionary product innovations such as the Dyson air multiplier or SAGE electrochromic glass are capturing the attention of many at the show. At the AIA/DC exhibit, Claire Conroy of Residential Architect magazine hosted a panel of seven Washington D.C.-based architects and their impressive breadth of recent work.  Philip Esocoff shared his strategy on leveraging height restrictions through pre-cast concrete ornamentation. Travis Price highlighted excerpts from his most recent book, “The Mythic Modern.” And, Mark McInturff spoke of the trials and tribulations of designing a roof top pool that weighs the equivalent of four Prius cars. All in all, it was an awe-inspiring day. Looking forward further exploration tomorrow…

AIA 2012 Off to a Busy Start

Thus far, the AIA 2012 Convention and Design Expo seems to have an exceptionally high level of traffic and energy on the exhibit floor. Is it the convenient Washington D.C. location? Renewed optimism of a rebounding economy? An expansive display of innovative new building products? Most likely, all of the above.

At the Saint-Gobain booth (#3339) there’s a wide array of technical experts on hand to talk about solar, building science, glass technology, and more. If you are unable to join us at the show, feel free to post your unsolvable problem on our trade show page.

Stay tuned for more updates from the show…

Saint-Gobain’s Expert “Throw Down” at the AIA 2012 Convention and Design Expo

 
 
The excitement for this year’s American Institute of Architects (AIA) Convention and Design Expo is growing for Saint-Gobain and its family of businesses! We will be heading down to the nation’s capital from May 17 – 19 to help architects and designers solve problems they are having on specific projects and introduce them to the expertise within Saint-Gobain.

You might ask yourself—who is Saint-Gobain and what do they have to do with CertainTeed?  Well, Saint-Gobain is CertainTeed’s parent company and also the largest building materials company in the world.

You already know Saint-Gobain, it may not be that obvious though—our roots start in France where 350 years ago, we made the glass that adorns the Hall of Mirrors in Versalles.  Today, we make beer bottles for Budweiser, manufactured the new roof on the Dallas Cowboys stadium and through CertainTeed, manufactured the ceiling tiles in the Denver airport and made the roof that adorns Henry Ford’s home.  This is a mere, and I mean mere glimpse into this massive company, but, also a glimpse into the possibilities.

That’s why Saint-Gobain is bringing all of its businesses to the AIA show this week, and not just to show off products.  Saint-Gobain features the largest and smartest collection of building scientists and technical experts in North America from its trusted North American companies:  CertainTeed, ADFORS, Grenite, Norton, SAGE, Saint-Gobain Glass, Saint-Gobain Solar, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and SolarGard to help architects “solve the unsolvable problem.” We urge design professionals to bring your unsolvable problems to our booth and try to stump out experts!

This year, we’re talking moisture, indoor environmental quality, aesthetics, thermal efficiency and solar and our experts are ready to talk.  If you can’t make the show, check us out virtually Trade Show page that will share show updates through Twitter so that non-attendees can feel part of the action.  Through this page you can also ask questions or present unsolvable problems that our experts can tackle. If you submit an unsolvable problem you will be entered into a prize drawing.

During AIA 2012, we will be blogging here about show events and observations from guest bloggers.  Should be fun and entertaining!

Please join the conversation at AIA from your desk by bookmarking the Trade Show page. We want to help you feel part of the AIA Convention and to help solve your design challenges.

Living Building Challenge Alive and Rising in Seattle

Lucas Hamilton

Lucas Hamilton is Manager, Building Science Applications for CertainTeed Corporation

In the early days of my blogging, I talked about the Living Building Challenge and the early adoption taking place in Portland, Oregon. The Challenge aims to certify green buildings around seven performance areas: site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty. It is so comprehensive that it is “whole-istic”. Sorry.

An exciting “Living Building” project is currently underway in Seattle that was highlighted in U.S News on MSNBC  on March 20, 2012. This could be a true showcase for the ultimate in sustainable office buildings. There is also a slide presentation in the link that is worth reviewing.

Denis Hayes, who co-founded Earth Day with Gaylord Nelson, now heads the Seattle-based Bullitt Foundation.  He is partnering with architect Jason McLennan, who is CEO of the International Living Future Institute on this project.

With everything from harvested rainwater to geothermal wells, solar energy and lots of natural light, this building has no parking lot on the premises but is accessible by bus, bike or on foot. One day this could truly become the standard for new urban construction but in the meantime it can also provide valuable data to fuel the movement on retrofitting existing buildings.

Great project with great potential!