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Constructed Ecologies Rice University graduate students Zhan Chen and Brantley Highfill (with faculty sponsor Douglas Oliver) recently received second place for their design Constructed Ecologies in the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture “Concrete Thinking for a Sustainable World” International Student Design Competition. The program challenged students to investigate an innovative application of portland cement-based materials to achieve sustainable design objectives and offered two separate entry categories, each without site restrictions. Constructed Ecologies was entered in the Building Element category and consists of permeable concrete planks to create a diverse, productive, and programmed landscape in environmentally sensitive areas such as bayous, bridges, and seawalls. The prefabricated, interlocking concrete GeoPlanks are designed to blend into the environment by collecting soil and seed deposits, achieving flood control without harming the natural environment.
San Antonio Military Medical Center Construction of the 1.1 million-sf San Antonio Military Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, designed by RTKL’s Dallas office, began in December. Scheduled for completion in July 2011, the $556 million integrated design-bid-build contract is a result of the 2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission’s recommendations. The project, including renovations to the existing Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC), will create the military’s flagship medical facility in the southern United States. Upon completion of the project, BAMC will be re-designated as SAMMC North.The scope of the work includes constructing a 790,000-sf medical tower and renovating 275,000 sf of the existing BAMC. The project will also add a 5,000-space parking garage and a 28,000-sf central energy plant. It will feature an extension of BAMC’s ISR Burn Unit. In addition, it will include approximately 78,000 sf of medical swing space to be used by the existing hospital departments during the renovation.
Solar LED Fascia University of Houston students Daniel De La Garza, Jared Wilson Thorn, Alfonso Villafuerte, and Chukwunoso Ofili have developed a concept for an eco-friendly, multi-purpose lighting system that could serve nightly as neighborhood and home security lighting and as solar-powered emergency lighting during power shortages. Composed of a solar-powered LED battery compartment and extruding aluminum siding with an acrylic diffuser, the light-up fascia creates a customizable band of white or colored light. Available in varying lengths, the light is meant to fit between the spaces of rafters. “The main purpose of the Solar LED Fascia is to light up the home in times of power outages as well as for everyday functions: landscape, security, or path lighting along the side of a house,” said De La Garza. Another goal is to deliver light to unlit areas in a design-conscious way. The inspiration for this concept came from the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, which left three million customers without electricity for weeks.
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