FAST COMPANY — Hickok Cole Architects’ master plan for Kingman and Heritage Islands has been named a finalist in the Urban Design category. World Changing Ideas celebrates businesses, policies, and nonprofits that are poised help shift society to a more sustainable and more equitable future.
URBAN LAND MAGAZINE — In 2017, California passed the first net-zero building code in the United States. New York City; Washington, D.C.; and other cities have made net-zero building commitments as well, including both new and existing buildings.
DC DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT — The Mayor directed the DC Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) to designate portions of both islands as a State Conservation Area and the southern area of Kingman Island as a Critical Wildlife Area. The State Conservation Area designation mimics the federal covenant for the islands, restricting their use to environmental, educational, and recreational purposes. In addition, the Mayor also announced a new $4.7 million investment for educational and recreational improvements on the islands.
DC POLICY CENTER — Will Millennials stay in the District when they start a family? D.C. policymakers have been fighting for decades to get young people to move downtown. They sure did come, and more of them than policymakers ever expected. But the long-term growth of D.C.’s population and tax base depends on them staying into their thirties and forties—and that depends on there being enough family-sized housing that today’s young people can afford.
Construction is now fully underway on The American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) headquarters renovation in Dupont Circle. As part of its mission of “science for the benefit of humanity,” AGU seeks to lead by example and is striving to create the first-ever “net zero energy” renovation of an existing commercial building in the District.
In order to realize this goal, particular strategies had to be devised and technological advances realized. We would like to present just a few of them from the architects’ perspective:
Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Array
This solar PV array includes 720 solar panels making up a 250 kilowatt system. It includes 24 panels on a vertical, south-facing surface and 696 panels laid out horizontally and elevated above the penthouse roof. The panels are from manufacturer Sunpower, and at just over 22% efficiency, they are some of the most efficient on the market.
Dedicated Outdoor Air System (DOAS) with Exhaust Air Heat Recovery
The DOAS will provide a dedicated means of ventilation for the building. This system will condition the air prior to delivering it inside, while at the same time recovering the outgoing exhaust air’s heat to help raise the temperature of the incoming fresh air for space heating needs.
Hydroponic Phytoremediation (Hy Phy) Wall
While this wall looks like a standard green wall or vertical garden, it will actually work a little harder. When installed it will be an active rather than passive wall, and function as part of the building’s ventilation system. In conjunction with the DOAS, the wall will filter and improve indoor air quality, all while reducing the amount of outside air necessary. The plants, their roots, and the water filtration system will scrub air of unwanted toxins and VOCs before it recirculates throughout the building.
Municipal Sewer Heat Exchange System
This system will tap into a combined sewer line in front of the building, which was built in the 1890s, to maximize the efficiency of the building’s mechanical systems. It will essentially function the same way a geothermal system does—as a heat sink/source—but it will be the first of its kind in the United States. The system operates by:
- Diverting wastewater to a settling tank located just outside of the building.
- Circulating the then debris-less water into a sewer heat exchanger in the underground garage.
- While in the garage, separately piped in radiant fluid will be pre-heated or cooled before being circulated throughout the building.
Fear not, it is a closed loop system, no sewage contamination will take place. Read more about how sewer heat exchange works here.
Stormwater Collection and Re-use
Rainwater will be captured from the roof and PV array and collected in a large cistern also located in the building’s garage. After filtration and treatment this greywater will be reused for all flushing fixtures and the irrigation of the green roof and hy phy wall. The cistern’s capacity is 11,300 gallons.
Enhanced Dynamic Glazing System
The existing windows at AGU will soon be removed and replaced with dynamic glass. The curtainwall glazing will be made up of triple-pane, air-filled, 1-3/4” thick windows. The added 3rd pane gives the windows a lower U-value and solar heat gain coefficient to help reduce the transmission of heat and cold. This glazing will also utilize an electrochromic film to tint the windows on-demand. This tint twill take the place of traditional blinds as well as reduce glare and heat transmission while still allowing natural light in and views out.
DC Powered Workspace and Lighting
The US electrical grid is wired for alternating current, or AC, power distribution. However, direct current, or DC, power is used by computers, appliances, and LED lighting. Conveniently, DC power is also what will be produced by the large PV array on AGU’s roof. Creating an energy distribution microgrid which relies on direct DC to DC power will reduce the energy efficiency loss caused by power conversion.
Enhanced Envelope Insulation
The existing building envelope is brick on a CMU backup wall separated by an air gap. The exterior walls do not currently contain insulation or an air/weather barrier. 6” studs have been added along the interior of the perimeter wall which will provide space to:
- Install 8” of closed-cell spray-applied insulation to achieve an R-value of 53. The new insulation will also act as an air barrier.
- Anchor new windows which will now be in-line with the insulation, creating a continuous thermal barrier.
Radiant Ceiling Cooling System
In a radiant ceiling system temperature is controlled by radiation, a more efficient way to condition space than forced-air. Decoupling the building conditioning system from the DOAS provides the opportunity to reduce the overall energy needed to move air through the building since it’s now only needed for ventilation, not for space cooling.
“The renovation of the existing AGU headquarters provides an unprecedented opportunity to challenge ourselves to lead by example and demonstrate that we, and the Earth and space science community we represent, can be a model for sustainable design, reducing the carbon and environmental impacts of business operations in a cost-effective and replicable way.”
– American Geophysical Union
Be sure to follow the latest construction updates at Building AGU.
As Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria approached the Gulf Coast and Caribbean Islands in the months of August and September, communities and families from Texas to Puerto Rico braced themselves for the impending storms. Among them were many friends and family of Hickok Cole employees, including a large contingency on the island of Puerto Rico. In the storms’ aftermath, the office rallied to help those affected, raising $745 in-house for Houston and the Gulf Coast, and $3,090 for Puerto Rico with industry partners Heller and Metzger, Structura, Perkins Eastman and McCullough Construction. But as long-term effects of the devastation set in, our Full Circle Committee – a grassroots volunteer group – challenged themselves to do more.
Inspired by three employees who jump-started hurricane relief fundraising and supply collections, the Committee approached owners Yolanda Cole and Mike Hickok with the idea to host a Hurricane Relief Fundraiser at this year’s Art Night. “These women inspired us to create a fundraising opportunity at Art Night,” says fundraiser organizer Lucia Tang. “They took initiative to self-organize and help communities impacted by hurricane disaster, and Full Circle is proud to support them in their efforts.” The Committee crafted a signature cocktail “A Splash of Relief,” and served them to the event’s 800 guests with a suggested donation of $10 per drink to raise funds for areas impacted by the recent hurricanes.
Proceeds from the signature cocktail totaled $1,200 and benefit the US Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, and Dominica. The funds will be distributed among the three charities below, each focused on aid in an area with a special connection to one of the three women leading the charge. Including this most recent effort, Full Circle Committee volunteers have raised over $5,000 for hurricane relief.
The Center of Disaster Philanthropy
Ellen Hearle is raising funds for The Center of Disaster Philanthropy, an organization uniquely focused on the long-term work of disaster recovery. The CDP Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund is delivering aid for medium- and long-term rebuilding, which includes rebuilding homes, businesses, infrastructure, meeting the needs of young children, supporting mental health needs, and boosting damaged agricultural sectors.
Ellen is a designer and technologist. She is an alumni of Tulane University and previous resident of Louisiana. Her experience with hurricane impacted areas motivated her to lead the fundraising effort after Hurricane Harvey. Ellen was student project manager for the LOOP Pavilion on New Orleans’ City Park Scout Island which won an AIA Merit Award in 2014.
United for Puerto Rico
Fanny Gonzalez is raising funds for United for Puerto Rico. The First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló founded this initiative in collaboration with the private sector with the purpose of providing aid and support to those affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. 100% of the proceeds will go to helping the victims of these natural disasters in Puerto Rico.
Fanny is a Project Designer who has lent her design skills to several pro-bono projects with the Full Circle Committee. She was born and raised on the beautiful Island of Puerto Rico. After the impact of Hurricane Maria, Fanny volunteered with Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration to send supplies and funds to the island. #puertoricoselevanta #unidosforpuertorico
Dominica Hurricane Maria Relief Fund
Tiffany Woolley is raising funds for Dominica Hurricane Maria Relief Fund. The Government of Dominica set up the crowd-sourcing fund to receive donations and assist Dominica with both emergency measures and the rebuilding effort that will follow.
Tiffany is a designer whose love for people and community inspires her to share the magic of Dominica and greater Caribbean culture. She has fond memories of her mother’s homeland, where many of her relatives still reside . She credits her time in Dominica with her love of color, curiosity for the natural world, and love of community.
The Full Circle Committee thanks Hickok Cole, Washington Project for the Arts, and the Art Night 2017 organizers for providing a venue for this fundraising effort. We’d also like to say a very special thank you to each and every donor who gave to our hurricane relief efforts. Every cent of your donation goes to support the communities and people directly impacted by these natural disasters – including the friends and family of our colleagues here at Hickok Cole.
DC DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT — Led by DOEE, Hickok Cole Architects and partners have developed this draft proposal that presents a vision for enhancing the islands as a unique educational and recreational asset for children and residents of the District, an oasis in the city that will protect critical habitats and species representing the District, and work towards the goals of a healthy restored Anacostia River and an engaged community.
Over the past few months, there has been a steady stream of conversation and research around the office related to the subject of mass timber and its application in building design and construction. The stars (and wood!) aligned in mid-July when our own Director of Sustainable Design and DC CREW EDU committee member, Holly Lennihan, joined The National Building Museum’s Timber City Exhibit, Forestry experts and other industry representatives for a panel discussion on the topic as a part of CREW DC’s “Innovation” education series.
Following the program, we sat down with Holly to discuss this growing trend, its application, and the design implications of using mass timber.
Why was mass timber a timely fit for CREW DC’s “Innovation” series?
The idea for the program originally grew out of conversations I was having with people in our office. This trend represents an exciting new way to use wood in our industry, and not many firms have experience designing and building with mass timber therefore our list of potential panelists was limited. However, through CREW EDU committee members, we were able to connect with both Melissa Jenkins of the U.S. Forest Service and Nadine Block of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Lauren Wingo, structural engineer at Arup, joined the team on the heels of a presentation Arup gave on mass timber to the Hickok Cole office. She was an integral part of their presentation, and we knew she would bring a lot of value to the program.
What innovations and advancements have been made to make building with wood in urban areas safer than the approach has been in the past?
During the panel, Melissa spoke specifically about the extensive safety testing. As I understand it, when a Cross Laminated Timber column or beam burns, a fascinating thing happens where the outside layer chars and actually insulates the inside. So, counter to what you would think, the burned exterior becomes the protection for the interior. According to Melissa, everyone who watched the fire test was stunned by how well the timber performed.
In addressing seismic issues, Cross Laminated Timber is a surprisingly effective structural system due to the process of laminating in two different directions. This technique results in ductile behavior, giving the structure flexibility and allowing for energy dissipation because the timbers can move against one another.
“Why not strengthen the wood production industry through investment in mass timber material? It supports domestic manufacturing while both helping the environment and contributing to beautiful interior design. I predict we will even see productivity gains in people who work in spaces where the wood structure is visible. To me, it resonates across the triple bottom line—a win-win-win for people, planet and profits.”
– Holly Lennihan
How is Cross Laminated Timber addressing established North American building codes that bar against the use of mass timber in high-rise development?
The 2015 International Building Code (IBC) allows for Cross Laminated Timber, but it has not yet been adopted by DC or Virginia. There are, however, alternate paths for incorporating mass timber in the meantime while complying with current codes. Lauren shared an example where Arup was able to use mass timber in their approach to Washington Latin Public Charter School’s new gymnasium; they walked the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) through a process to show them how Cross Laminated Timber can meet fire and structural requirements for the code. This was, of course, aided by the fact that the material is included in future versions of the IBC.
Once there is a developer on board that understands that building with this material has valid economic rationale, while also giving them an edge in terms of their product offering, we anticipate others will follow. Hines has already successfully delivered a mass timber high-rise office tower in Minneapolis. At Hickok Cole, we’re excited about the opportunity to work alongside developers who want to be at the forefront of this kind of innovative work.
Are there sustainable or aesthetic benefits to building with wood over other materials?
From an aesthetic and wellness angle, there are benefits to taking a biophilic, human-centered approach to design. We are finding more and more connections between natural building materials and productivity, health and wellness. Plus, exposing the natural wood makes for a beautiful interior.
Nadine did a really good job of explaining the role of culling to maintain healthy forests. This necessary clearing results in a supply of timber that can be used throughout the built environment. Others are using wood from forests that have been decimated by the Mountain Pine Beetle, an epidemic brought on by climate change that is currently ravaging the West. Both approaches are helping to keep forests healthy and repurpose excess wood into a useful building material.
Are there financial benefits for developers that choose to go the mass timber route?
I think people that have used it successfully point to its ease of use and the resulting increased speed of construction. Anytime you can cut down on construction time, you are going to have a net gain in terms of expenditure and budget. Additionally, the fact that it’s a lighter weight material means a decrease in foundation costs.
As a designer and architect specializing in sustainability, why do you think mass timber is something DC—and the rest of the country—should be focused on right now?
For one thing, DC’s incredibly committed to sustainability. I think design professionals like myself feel that if there’s one place mass timber could enter the market, it’s here. We are looking for clients – whether it’s a developer or a mission-driven non-profit – to see the benefits of Cross Laminated Timber and be an agent of change.
However, we do have to be realistic. I think there are design constraints which could make it difficult to convince a central business district developer who wants to do a concrete and steel building to go the mass timber route. On the other hand, people may find new ways to use it. I’m both pragmatic and idealistic. I believe the use of mass timber will ultimately result in a better building, but it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach.
Special thanks to the DC CREW EDU committee members and to the following expert panelists who contributed to the “Timberrrr! A New Look at Wood Construction” program:
- Melissa Jenkins, Natural Resources Specialist, Cooperative Forestry (Wood Innovation), U.S. Forest Service
- Nadine Block, Chief Operating Officer and Senior VP Public Affairs, Sustainable Forestry Initiative
- Lauren Wingo, Structural Engineer, Arup
Want to learn more about mass timber’s use in building design and construction? Check out these additional resources:
- ReThink Wood
- Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, Tall Timber Audit
- S.538 Timber Innovation Act of 2017
- “New federal act could give mass timber a big boost,” The Architects Newspaper
WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL — Two dilapidated townhouses and a circa-1912 warehouse do not naturally add up to a modern, amenity-filled District apartment building. They do now. Equity and Hickok Cole Architects have restored and hand painted the brick walls and added custom-made fixtures that recall the warehouse’s industrial past.
ENTREPRENEUR MAGAZINE — Director of Hickok Cole’s Richmond studio, Jessica Zullo, extols the usefulness of co-working spaces for networking, client engagement, and making connections between businesses with complimentary services.