Urban Land story features NASA Sustainability Base


by Ron Nyren
February 26, 2013

Here’s an excerpt:

In the 1960s, the London-based avant-garde architectural group Archigram envisioned a new era of technology-infused architecture. They dreamed up robotic cities that could walk around, and cities in which cranes hoisted living spaces and plugged them into an existing framework structure as needed. While the group’s utopian visions have not come to pass, architects, engineers, and manufacturers continue to experiment with new technical strategies to enhance the ways buildings look and function.

In the following ten projects (listed alphabetically), all completed in the last five years, relatively new technologies are applied or existing technologies are used in new ways or at unprecedented scales. From shading structures that open and close as they follow the sun, to a high-tech server center cooled with water mist, to a mixed-use complex in a transparent bubble, they suggest possible futures for the built environment. . . .

When the National Aeronautics and Space Adminis­tration (NASA) decided to add a new office building to its Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, the agency wanted to showcase its technology and research and highlight sustainable design. The local office of AECOM, architect of record, and the San Francisco office of ­William McDonough + Partners, design architect, partnered with the agency to incorporate NASA technologies. The forward-osmosis water recycling system created for the International Space Station treats the building’s graywater for reuse in toilet flushing. Also, NASA’s hybrid diagnostic engine monitors geothermal wells to identify malfunctioning components.

A structural exoskeleton, made of steel to make repair and disassembly easier, provides column-free interiors for workplace flexibility and offers high structural performance in seismic events; it also serves as an armature for shading structures. Radiant-cooling ceiling panels and radiant-heating wall panels reduce energy use. In addition to rooftop photovoltaic panels, an on-site fuel cell supplies electricity; currently it runs on natural gas, but NASA plans to power it with methane captured from landfills. The two-story building was completed in 2011.

Read the full article here.