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Shepley Bulfinch wins AIA Green Design Competition

Friday, 2 June 2006

BOSTON, MA — Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott has been selected as one of three winning entries out of 80 project submissions in the AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) national House for an Ecologist Competition. The award-winning design of the Water Wall House was created by Andre Kamili, Cindy Lee and Jesse Taylor, young designers at Shepley Bulfinch. The winning projects are selected as best-practice examples of a high-performance, sustainable design approach.

The Water Wall House, designed by Andre Kamili, Cindy Lee and Jesse Taylor, was one of three winning designs among 80 submissions in the AIA “House for an Ecologist” Competition. AIA/COTE Director, Kathleen Lane, presented the award to the three winning design teams at The Architecture of Sustainability conference held in early May in Washington, DC where the winners presented their projects at a discussion panel. Andre Kamili received a BA from Carnegie Mellon Institute, Cindy Lee received a Bachelor of Architecture from the Boston Architectural Center and Jesse Taylor received his Master of Architecture degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

In describing the design, the project proposal states that the Water Wall House integrates “the disparate elements of user needs, specifics of place and strategic technologies, forming a new entity that is more than the sum of its parts. Like a molecule of water, the house is a transformation of its atomic ingredients.”

Through an innovative use of environmental technology, the structure’s exterior envelope shelters the interior from dramatic shifts in outdoor temperature while creating transparency between the interior and the out of doors. South-facing, water-core, Trombe Walls integrate structural LVL wood framing, transparent containers of water, straw bale insulation and a layer of thermal glazing that provide a temperate anchor for the interior and a structural anchor for the cantilever. Most importantly, the “water wall” allows the inside of the house to open outward, forming a “window on the landscape,” which expresses the design intent to allow the users to contemplate their relationship with the landscape and to embody the idea of making a connection to the landscape through form.

“This project is intriguing because it merged technology with aesthetics in a compelling and interesting way and also was a modest interpretation of the program,” commented one of the jurors. “It is quite a beautiful and somewhat soft building that sits nicely in the landscape.”

“Overall,” said the designers, “the house is the result of integrating and transforming its constituent elements—a dwelling that grows out of its site, floats among the trees and soars to the sky. Asked what inspired the Water Wall House, Andre Kamili responded on behalf of the design team, “We simply created a house that we would want to live in.”

“We are proud of the design team’s accomplishments,” said Carole Wedge, AIA, President of Shepley Bulfinch. “This is an excellent example of the firm’s commitment to making design exploration tangible at many scales of our community, especially in the area of sustainable design. The effort and thoughtfulness of their entry is impressive. This was a rewarding experience for all those at Shepley Bulfinch who competed, and we will continue to look for competitions that represent creative opportunities for us to explore our strategies around design and imbed sustainable design principles in our work.”

Since 1996, this juried competition has celebrated the best in sustainable design. The conference program included a presentation of the 2006 AIA Top ten Green Projects, including the Water Wall House.

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