Tuesday, November 2, 2010

AIA Denver COTE Forum: Community Based Design-Build Projects

Friday, November 5th from 11:30 to 1:00

Location: University of Colorado at Denver , Room 480
1250 14th St ., Denver , CO 80202

Lecture by Rick Sommerfeld on community-based design-build projects including DesignBuildBLUFF.

Rick Sommerfeld is the Associate Chair and Senior Instructor at the University of Colorado 's College of Architecture and Planning.  In addition, he leads the College's design / build studio that has long focused on community based design projects.  The College and studio has recently partnered with Design Build BLUFF to build a home on the Navajo Reservation in Utah .

Rick holds an M.Arch from the University of Colorado Denver , and a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder . Rick currently teaches architecture courses at the University of Colorado , College of Architecture and Planning, focusing on green design and construction as well as computer design and architectural graphics. He was selected by faculty and students as the college's "Instructor of the Year" for 2003 and again in 2005. He also holds the college's "Outstanding Graduate Award" for 2001 and was the American Institute of Architect's "AIA Master's Candidate Medal Winner" for 2001. Rick was a Faculty Advisor for the CU 2005 National Solar Decathlon team. His student’s “green” fabrication work has been shown at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and Design Within Reach Studio in Boulder . Rick's professional design practice, the3rdspace in Denver , specializes in innovative residential and small commercial design.

UCD Design-Build Program

Over the past three years the design-build program at UCD has been overseen by Rob Pyatt and Rick Sommerfeld, both are graduates of the "Glenn Murcutt International Master Class". The presentation will cover what they learned at the Murcutt Master Class and how that has influenced the design-build projects at UCD.
The Murcutt Master Class is an intensive summer program lead by tutors Glenn Murcutt, Richard Leplastrier, Peter Stutchbury, and Brit Andersen. Every year 30 architects, professors, and graduate students from around the world are selected to participate in design problem that thoroughly considers program in relationship to the context and the Australian landscape. Participants live in residence with the tutors and over the duration of the class design and present their ideas. On weekends, in order to understand architecture at a deeper level, tutors take the participants to projects that they are working on or have completed to explain their design philosophy.
The design-build program at UCD is interested in community-based design problems that allow students to consider the social, environmental and economic impacts of their architecture. Through hands on interactions with clients, and construction students learn to understand the significance their design decisions have in the world. Two of the programs most recent projects are the interior renovation of the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and a $50,000 house for a Navajo family in Bluff, UT.

Cost: Free for members/$20 for nonmembers
Credit: 1.0 HSW/SD

Contact Jenna Cather to rsvp

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Thursday, November 11, 5:30-7:30pm – Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture, 3457 Ringsby Court, Unit 200, Denver

Join AIA Colorado for the Emerging Professionals Forum, an evening for yet-to-be-licensed design professionals to learn about services at their disposal. It will feature manned stations with information about AIA Denver Diversity Committee, NCARB, IDP, licensure, ARE study materials and study groups, and mentoring programs. Appointments will also be available with professional human resource managers and design principals in attendance, who will review resumes and portfolios. Also included is a panel discussion on “Demystifying the Process,”  lead by principals, HR representatives and others who are involved in the process of receiving resumes and portfolios and deciding who is invited to come in for a job interview. Cost: Free for AIA Colorado members. Attendees are encouraged to bring a non-member who can also participate at no charge. Food and drinks will be provided by the AIA Colorado Emerging Professionals Committee. RSVPs are required and must be made by Monday, November 8, at 4 pm by contacting AIA Colorado Office Administrative Assistant/Membership Coordinator Emily Ewing at emily@aiacolorado.org or at 303.446.2266, ext. 110.


Saturday, November 6, 10:00am-5:00pm – Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave Parkway, Denver

On the first Saturday of every month, you can enjoy the DAM art collections and non-ticketed exhibitions without spending a dime! Free tickets are available on-site starting at 10:00am. Contact: 720-865-5000. Visit the website.

Monday, December 28, 2009

AIA Denver COTE Presentation: Overview of LEEDv3 and LEED AP Program Changes

Friday January 8, 2010 11:30 am - 1:00 pm

Join the AIA Denver Committee on the Environment (COTE) on Friday, Jan. 8, from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., for Overview of LEEDv3 and LEED AP Program Changes, a presentation by Dana Kose, board chair of the U.S. Green Building Council Colorado Chapter and Jim Bradburn, vice chair of the USGBC Colorado Chapter. The presentation will take place at the University of Colorado at Denver, Room 470 (1250 14th St., Denver, Colo.).

The program will provide an overview of the changes made to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System Version 3 and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Professional Accreditation (LEED AP) program. The presentation will explain the reorganization of the existing LEED rating systems and the new key advancements. It will also explain the changes the LEED AP program is undergoing to strengthen its strengths and improve its weaknesses, as well as allow the credential to be relevant while offering differentiation and specialization.

Attendees can earn 1.0 health, safety and welfare (HSW) AIA continuing education learning unit. Under the state of Colorado’s rules for continuing education for state licensure renewal, this program meets the requirements for 1.0 HSW professional development unit.

RSVPs are requested and must be made by Thursday, Jan. 7, at 4 p.m. by contacting Jenna Cather at 303.446.2266, ext. 112 or jenna@aiacolorado.org. This presentation is free for all AIA Colorado members and non-members not seeking continuing education credit. Non-members seeking continuing education credit may attend for a fee of $15. Download a non-member registration form here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Kivi Sotamaa Lecture “Sensation”

Monday, November 16, 6:00pm – MBA Suite, University of Colorado Denver Building, 1250 14th Street, Denver

5:30 – Reception in MBA Suite Area

Finnish architect Kivi Sotamaa is Visiting Assistant Professor at the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design. Previously he held positions at The Ohio State University and the Universität für Angewandte Kunst, Institut für Architektur in Vienna. He is the principal of Sotamaa Design ltd. Until 2005 he was one of the founders and principals of Ocean North. Sotamaa’s creative work is widely published and exhibited. His work has been exhibited by MoMA, the Wexner Center for the Arts, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Fondazione Trussardi and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanazawa. Publications featuring his work include the New York Times, Phaidon’s 10×10 Architects [1&2], New Scandinavian Design, Forum Sweden, AD, Praxis, Kenhiku Bunka, L’Arca and Domus. His most current projects are Saunalahti Public School and Sirocco, a permanent pavilion to be constructed in 2009 in Helsinki. Sotamaa holds a Masters degree from the University of Art and Design in Helsinki [UIAH] and in addition has studied at the Helsinki University of Technology and the Royal College of Art in London.

“Sotamaa explores a formal vocabulary which reflects his fluid, less bounded, more organic way of working and communicating. In his work there is a resurfacing of ideas that developed earlier in 20th century by surrealist painters, filmmakers, poets - having to do with the subconscious, having to do with dreams, water, fluidity, and the dissolution of the boundaries that reason applies to experience - with which reason tries to categorize experience. Sotamaa is developing a vocabulary which draws on and expands surrealist ideas into architecture. His work is not just about the technology, the new, the digital - but the continuity with ideas that are integral to modern art.” (Herbert Muschamp, NY Times architecture critic)

Friday, October 30, 2009

AIA Denver COTE Meeting 11-6-09

Friday, November 6, 11:30am-1:00pm – UC Denver Building, Room 470, 1250 14th Street, Denver

Join the AIA Denver Committee on the Environment (COTE) for Architecture for Humanity, presented by Sarah Karlan and Matthew Hamann. This presentation will discuss Architecture for Humanity as a volunteer organization who provides pro bono design services to local and international communities in need and how they strive to promote environmentally and socially responsive solutions through education and a strong collaboration with client and community.  While working in conjunction with other humanitarian based organizations and community networking, Architecture for Humanity aims to continually expand their influence and advocacy and promote a better way of life through an architectural medium.  RSVPs are requested and must be made by Thursday, Nov. 5, at 4 pm by contacting Jenna Cather at 303.446.2266, ext. 112 or jenna@aiacolorado.org. Cost: Free for members/ $15 for non-members. AIA Denver COTE meets the first Friday of each month. The presentation will be preceded by an AIA Denver COTE business meeting at 11:30am.  For more information about this committee, contact AIA Denver at 303.446.2266 or visit the website.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Carsharing comes to Denver

(from www.greenprintdenver.org)

Ready to Go Multi-Modal?

A new travel option is coming to Denver. Carsharing is currently available in more than 40 US cities, and beginning this spring, Denver will join that list. This alternative to personal car ownership provides members hourly use of vehicles—without the costs of insurance, maintenance or even gas. Not a new concept, carsharing organizations (not carpooling) have operated for more than 20 years worldwide.


Photo of key fob

Carsharing provides a perfect supplement to transit, cycling and walking, for those times when you just need a car, whether at work or at home. It’s a good reason to downsize from two cars to one (or even none) if you want to save money, live or work in an area with parking challenges, or if you want to make more green-living choices. With options, it’s easier to think twice about the appropriate transportation mode for each trip and drive less. This helps create places that are more people oriented, economically vibrant, eco-friendly and easier and more efficient to travel to and through.

Now, a local nonprofit with over eight years’ experience as a successful carshare organization in Boulder, eGo CarShare, is expanding to provide service in the metro Denver area. Members pay a small fee to join and monthly (with a good driving record) and then reserve cars online as needed for a low hourly rate (currently $4), to use any of their fleet of new, fuel-efficient vehicles parked in convenient, nearby locations and accessed with a special key “fob.” Cars should be available in Denver in the next month. For more information, visit www.carshare.org.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Cost of Building Green

(Source: AIA - American Institute of Architects, March 31, 2009)

When "Green Construction" is discussed the focus inevitably turns to cost. How much additional will the green project cost? Some organizations are opposed to any additional first costs while others have some tolerance for additional expenditures.

The most prominent standard for green buildings is the USGBC (US Green Building Council). The USGBC LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program has four levels of green certification: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. These levels represent increasing levels of sustainability. There have been numerous studies aimed at comparing the cost of a USGBC LEED certified building to traditional designs. The average additional cost quoted is in the range of 2% to 5%. Based upon commercial building costs of $150/sq.ft. to $250/sq.ft., this is equivalent to a $7.50 to $12.50/sq.ft. premium for building green. The majority of this cost is due to the increased architectural and engineering design time necessary to integrate sustainable building practices into the projects. Another additional cost is for commissioning. Commissioning is the process of ensuring that the systems are designed, installed, functionally tested and capable of being operated and maintained to conform to the design intent. According to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory commissioning can save as much as 40% of the buildings utility bills for HVAC.

As more buildings are being designed to address the green initiatives the additional design as well as construction cost is decreasing.

Now let's examine the advantages of owning a "green" building. The obvious advantage is the reduced impact on the environment through waste recycling, reduced water and energy consumption, and better indoor air quality by reducing VOCs. In addition to these environmental advantages there are marketing and tenant retention benefits to owning a green building. Organizations want to locate and stay in a healthy building. Finally there is a productivity and health value associated with "green" buildings. Greg Kats of Capital E published an analysis that projects the 20 year NPV (net present value) savings of a Certified or Silver building. The cost savings are attributable to reduced water, energy, waste plus commissioning O&M and productivity and health value. Savings of $52.87/square foot for Certified or Silver buildings and $71.31/square foot for a Gold or Platinum buildings are projected. Of these amounts $36.89/square foot and $55.33 respectively are attributable to productivity and health value. Even if the productivity and health value is reduced or eliminated the 20 year NPV savings ($52.87 - $36.89 = $15.89) exceeds the cost premium stated above.

In light of the above who can afford not to build green?

Ed Schultz now on TV

Progressive radio talk show host Ed Schultz has received the bump that many feel he deserves, a show on MSNBC.  The show will air for the first time on Monday, April 6.  "The Ed Show" will air weekdays, 6-7 p.m. ET.  Watch video

"I'm excited to have this opportunity with MSNBC," said Schultz. "I look forward to having a day to day discussion with fellow Americans on issues that really matter to all of us."

“The Ed Schultz Show” currently has a weekly radio audience of more than 3 million listeners on over 100 stations across the country.  Ed is known for being somewhat of an exception to the rule.  He has declared a love for red meat and guns, but he is as liberal as any progressive figure.  He is often a champion for the middle class, and says he will continue to fight for the working man(and woman) on his new TV show.

Fox news has a hard time dealing with the fact that progressive media is gaining ground amongst Americans, as over 90% of the current media is conservative.  It is nice to see that progressive radio has a voice in our culture.   Congratulations to Big Eddie, its about time.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Twitter Phenomenon

The concept of social networking has been growing exponentially in the last few years with sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Digg, and now Twitter.  For those who are wondering just what Twitter is, it is a form of social networking known as “micro-blogging”.  It is similar to updating your Facebook status.   Twitter__What_are_you_doing_-3Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent messages.  People write short updates, often called "tweets"  of 140 characters or fewer.  These messages are posted to your profile or your blog, sent to your followers, and are searchable on Twitter search.

The Twitter craze is catching on slowly but surely, but some may question the need of yet another social networking site.  The value of Twitter is the quick exchange of short pieces of information, like texting on a cell phone.   People can provide relevant information to their peers, without engaging in long conversation. 

Individuals primarily use the micro-blog, but businesses are also beginning to “tweet” to their customers.  Dell is one of the most successful companies, attributing over a million dollars from micro-blogging on Twitter.  Companies can use the service to keep customers informed on their latest promotions, as well as offer site-specific deals.  As Twitter becomes more mainstream, more companies will begin to see the inherent value of quick communication with their potential consumers.

Blogging, and now micro-blogging are here to stay.  I encourage everyone to get on and start “tweeting”. 

By the way, follow me on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/Schmurgen

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Super Bowl 2009 - The "green" game?

Super Bowl 2009 is almost here, and the NFL Environmental Program, in partnership with the Tampa Bay host committee, is taking steps to make the game more Eco-friendly this year. Some of these initiatives include:

- Recovery of prepared food from events

- Solid waste recycling

- Donation of all leftover building and decorative materials to local nonprofits

- Use of renewable energy to power the NFL Experience Football Theme Park and the stadium on game day

- Collection of used books and sports equipment for local schools and youth agencies

- Travel offsets for the teams and NFL officials traveling to Super Bowl XLIII

For the game in Tampa Bay, there will also be thousands of trees planted to reduce the carbon footprint of the game. This is the fifth year that the NFL has incorporated tree planting projects in the host city, typically in association with the US Forest Service.

While it is commendable that the NFL is taking these steps, I still feel like more could be done to not only "green" the Super Bowl, but the NFL in general. Many of these initiatives could be applied to all of the regular and post-season games as well. The NFL has the resources to expand this program to include more creative ways to make the league environmentally sustainable. It is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to make the game of football truly "green."

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Fountain of Youth

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that science has come a long way, and still making significant discoveries and advances. One particular area I would like to discuss is the realm of human health and biology. Two hundred years ago, one was considered a senior citizen at the age of 35. In today’s standards, this is merely middle age. At best, humans today are living to be a little over a hundred years old. Recent scientific advances have proposed that humans have the possibility of doubling, even tripling this incredible life span. This arises certain questions, particularly, health, environmental and social impacts, psychology, and finances, to name a few. These issues will be reviewed in the context of this article.

Firstly, when one considers the idea of living to be, for example, 200 years old, in what physical condition will this person be? Wheelchair bound, in a nursing home, nearly deaf and blind, or full of life and energy, like a twenty year old? I suppose that as long as the important biological functions are in tact (heart, lungs, digestive and nervous systems), then one is technically alive. The definition of alive then becomes too subjective. That is to say, at what point is one living or thriving? I would prefer to thrive.

Secondly, a question of environmental impact is considered. A human consumes a lot in one lifetime. How much would a person consume in two or even three lifetimes worth? By humans living longer, there will also be a peak point as birth rate continues to rise while the death rate does not decrease. This phenomenon will push the earth over its carrying capacity for too long, and the results will be disastrous. At this point, I envision that human life will become a commodity, with marketable birth rights, and taxation for living past a certain age.

There will also be great social impacts with this. With the increased amount of senior citizens, welfare, social security, and healthcare programs will all need massive restructuring. The US will become one big “Sun City”. Golf carts and Rascals will have their own lane. The national curfew will be five p.m... These are extreme examples, but not entirely improbable.

Human psychology will also be affected. The longer living individuals will have to cope with the stresses of their age, mobility, roles in society, etc, that will all be affected by being older. One has to consider how aging affects an individuals psyche. Will there be such thing as a “post-natural mid-life crisis” at 125 years of age? This has never happened before on a large scale, so it will unfold a whole new area of psychological research.

Finally, as worldly as it sounds, finances must be considered. In today’s society, most are living paycheck to paycheck. Very few have enough to live on after retirement, and those who do, really only have about 20-30 years worth of retirement living funds. How does one plan to pay the bills for 250 years? Can a 150 year old person work to earn a living? Will social security last for two hundred years? Or, on the other hand, will anyone that invested in their thirties and forties be the richest in the world, due to their very long standing rates of return on their investments?

The idea that I could live to be 200-300 years old, if not more, is very appealing to me, given a few conditions. It would require financial stability, good strong health, and a supportive social system in place. Imagine how much intelligence one could acquire in 250 years. It would be nothing less than amazing to say the least. The technology exists to make all of this happen, but what it is worth is up to us.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The United States of Affluenza

Since its inception in the 1700’s, America has had the mindset that more is better. When the settlers exhausted the land in the east, they gradually moved west. For years, they thought they could move west perpetually, somehow forgetting that the earth is round, and eventually you come back to the starting line. Eventually, they ran into the Pacific Ocean, and were startled to realize that there was a limit to their expansion. Not satisfied, they built piers. Even this was not enough, so they began to move north and south, acquiring more land, resources, and wealth in their path. Wealth, by simple definition, is the amount of “stuff” you have. This idea has remained unchanged since the beginning of human civilization. Unfortunately, the US is a bleeding poster child for this state of greed. David Wann calls this Affluenza, as if it is a disease that causes one to consume more and more. If everyone lived like Americans do, we would need two whole more earths just to sustain that lifestyle. That is just the problem. Nearly everyone in the developing countries seeks this “buy now, pay later” lifestyle.

Consumption is not inherently a bad thing. It is a natural process that all organisms incur. The problem is that humans have broken the natural levels with intellectualism and marketing. If all organisms consume at a sustainable level, with no unnecessary waste, then the ecosystem is in balance. Humans come built in with hunger, joy, pain, rest, and pleasure satiety levels. When we push past these natural levels, or set points, we become over consumers. The question becomes two-fold: what are the set points and are they quantifiable? That is a hard thing to measure, but I believe the best way to quantify this with today’s science is through the concept of ecological footprints. An ecological footprint analysis determines the necessary amount of land to sustain one’s lifestyle. Certain things like eating red meat and petroleum fueled activities use proportionally more acreage than eating chicken and using solar power, for example. Americans, on average, are already using more than twice their share of land. This is what needs to be controlled.

I am not proposing that everyone sell their cars and become organic farmers (necessarily). If everyone reduces their consumption of things that require less land, that will be a huge first step to making the Earth’s resources more sustainable. Another important premise to this concept is to change both how much we consume as well as how we consume. By doing an ecological footprint analysis, one can pinpoint which areas of their life to minimize.

By taking these few steps, we can begin to quantify consumption. This works on a personal level because when an individual conserves one unit of x downstream, it saves an average of ten units of x upstream. Plus, it will save more money and time on an individual level. If we don’t buy as much, it is reasonable to assume that we won’t consume as much. If we can do things more efficiently, and with less energy, then it will most likely save time as well. This concept of reducing consumption on a personal level is essential to the health and welfare of our global community.