Geoff Weisenberger, Associate Editor


Other Building Types October 1, 2006

Original Intent

Let's face it, we live in a throwaway culture, and buildings are no exception. Too often, historically and architecturally significant edifices are bulldozed to make way for brand new buildings with modern bells and whistles. And for many owners and developers, “historic building” means “leaky plumbing,” “too drafty” or “structurally unsound.” And in some cases, they're right. But some buildings are simply too precious not to keep around, and when it comes time to renovate, building teams are challenged not only with maintaining historical significance, but also with addressing the issues of occupant comfort, energy efficiency, modern communications and increased electrical needs.

By Geoff Weisenberger, Associate Editor
Lighting and Lighting Controls September 1, 2006

Pentagon to Premiere Exiting Plan

Five years after 9/11, whether or not buildings are safer is still a point of contention, but one thing that can't be argued is that many “high-risk” buildings have made efforts to beef up security. And it's certainly no surprise that the Pentagon is one such edifice. In collaboration with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon put a high priority on implementing a prototype system to detect chemical and/or biological agents that could minimize occupant exposure through quick, strategic evacuation routes. Regal Decision Systems, a company specializing in custom life safety/evacuation software, developed the program—the Evacuation Guidance System (EGS)—which is essentially software that maps out optimal evacuation routing and guides occupants using directional lighting. In a nutshell, the program creates a virtual map of a facility through extensive data collection, allowing facilities to strategically set up cameras to record people and their actions.

By Geoff Weisenberger, Associate Editor
MNS, ECS September 1, 2006

A Texas-sized Sprinkler Installation

The motto of the University of Texas at Austin is: “What starts here changes the world.” While this phrase refers to UT's success in education, research and athletics, it could just as easily allude to the university's leadership in dormitory fire protection. The school just completed a six-year program to install sprinklers, as well as address other life safety issues, in all of its residence halls. And that's no small task at one of the largest universities in the country. UT's dorms house approximately 7,000 students during the academic year.

By Geoff Weisenberger, Associate Editor
Other Building Types September 1, 2006

Superdome Ready for Some Football

A year after Hurricane Katrina devastated portions of the Gulf Coast, perhaps the most publicized building in the days following the storm—the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans—is back in business. Design firm Ellerbe Becket's Kansas City office played a key role in making this happen. The firm had been working with the Superdome's owner, the Louisiana Stadium Exhibition District, since 2001 to upgrade the building—home of the New Orleans Saints—to maintain it at a competitive level with other NFL facilities. Immediately following Katrina, Ellerbe Becket was contacted to perform a damage assessment, as the Superdome's management wanted the facility back in operation as soon as possible. The NFL indicated it would aid with the building's recovery on the condition that it be fully operational for the Saints' first home game of the 2006 season on Sept. 25.

By Geoff Weisenberger, Associate Editor
Codes and Standards June 1, 2006

No Cavalier Design

When Thomas Jefferson first drew up the plans for what would become the University of Virginia, it's safe to say he didn't anticipate that the Charlottesville school would one day be crazed about a sport involving a ball being thrown through a hoop. Yet it's fair to say he would be proud that the new home of UVA basketball would be one of the most unique and innovative facilities in the country. And nearly 200 years after the first cornerstone was laid, the school will be able to boast such a facility, as the John Paul Jones Arena (JPJA) is scheduled to open in July. Named for the father of a major financial contributor to the project—not the Revolutionary War hero or the bass player from Led Zeppelin—the 15,000-seat arena will serve as not only the new home to the Cavaliers men's and women's basketball teams, but also as a true multipurpose facility, with approximately 70 of the projected 100 annual events to be other than basketball games. A better view Before breaking down the M/E/P systems in this cutting-edge arena, it's important to look at the unique seating design, a major driver of the project. Where most basketball arenas spread their seating around the event floor/court in a "doughnut," the facility employs a horseshoe design typical of many outdoor college football stadiums.

By Geoff Weisenberger, Associate Editor
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