Daylighting: Less Cost & More Productivity

Well-designed daylighting reduces energy costs and contributes to a significant increase in worker productivity.

Daylighting involves more than simply adding windows or skylights in order to allow light to enter an occupied space; good daylighting design must also take into consideration the possibility of undesirable side effects and preserve the occupant’s view by using integrated design strategies to balance occupant needs. These include balancing heat gain and loss, controlling glare, and addressing variations in the availability of daylight. Therefore, successful daylighting designs must include the use of shading devices to control heat loads and to reduce both glare and excessive contrast between lit and unlit spaces. In addition, designers must evaluate window spacing and size, glass selection, the reflectance of interior finishes, and the location of interior partitions.

Despite these accompanying design challenges, daylighting has the potential to significantly reduce operating costs, life-cycle costs, and emissions, and to increase occupants’ productivity and wellbeing. A study by Heschong Mahone, a research group, found that office workers performed better on tests of metal function and memory recall when they had a view versus those with no view. Reports of increased fatigue were most strongly associated with a lack of view.

Contributed by Troy Depeiza

Residential Design Trends: Line of Sight & Flexibility

Two of the most popular residential design trends are open first floor plans and blended indoor/outdoor living space. Both are driven by the desire for unobstructed line of sight and flexibility of uses.

The open plan has become one of the most popular must-haves for buyers searching for that perfect home. Its popularity is due to the desire for more flexible space that can be used for private living space during the week and entertainment space on the weekends. The appeal comes mostly from the host’s wish to be a part of the gathering while preparing and serving food. The open plan gives the host in the kitchen the opportunity to interact with their guests that are socializing in the living room or dining room. The open plan feature also is desirable for parents who need to be preparing dinner or performing daily chores while their children play. Line of sight and human interaction are the driving features behind an open plan making it a staple for today’s multitasking modern family lifestyle.

More flexible space that many homeowners look for are spaces between the interior of their home and the exterior elements. Decks, patios and porches have become increasingly popular for entertainment. Simple overhangs of a roof or extensions of a floor plate can extend the living space into the odors even on a less than perfect day. The threshold between outdoors and indoors can be easily bridged by using full height panes of glass and sliding doors. This residential trend is also driven by the line of sight; by offering visual and spatial continuity with the outdoors you increase the size of the space.

Older homes built in the early and mid-1900s were meant to hide the kitchen and all the behind the scenes action from the guests. Lifestyles were much different then and it was custom for the women or servants to be in the kitchen preparing while the men socialized separately. Today society as a whole has become more open. When you first walk into a home built in the early or mid-1900s you do not have many direct lines of site into other rooms, houses were more formal each room was more separate and had a specific function. Today people are looking for open layouts that allow for flexibility and open lines of site. Rooms no longer have walls separating them; they are now defined by décor, flooring, paint, and furniture.

Contributed by Brittany Carey

Biotech Design Trends: Existing Vacant Buildings

When it comes to increasing square footage, many biotechnology companies – both large and small – have chosen existing vacant buildings over new construction.

This trend has been strong for the past ten years in Massachusetts in particular, creating exciting opportunities for architects and engineers. Having provided architectural solutions for many life science clients myself – from small start-ups to industry leaders such as Genzyme, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, and The Broad Institute in Cambridge, MA – has taught me that two critical elements are essential to success with this type of project:

Establish Feasibility First.

The primary challenge for the architect – to understand the client’s culture and product as they are today and design a space that supports current requirements, while also planning for future needs – is complicated by the need to fit the best solution for today and tomorrow into yesterday’s infrastructure with the least amount of augmentation possible. This becomes a key issue in evaluating the feasibility of the project.

Prioritize Collaboration.

Once feasibility has been established, an energetic and effective collaboration between client, design team, building owner, and local building authorities needs to begin in earnest. This will provide an atmosphere for issues to be voiced very early in the process, solutions to be agreed upon, and therefore pre-empts expensive and time-consuming delays later in the execution of the project.

Contributed by Troy Depeiza