The Global Holcim Awards 2012 finalist certificate was presented to architects Nathan Swift and Gloria Lee from Swift Lee Office (SLO) at the offices of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Guests included Krisztina Tokes, Director of Asset Management, LAUSD; Brianna Garcia, Charter School/Prop 39, LAUSD; Kevin Newman, American Institute of Architects (AIA), Senior Design Manager, LAUSD; Nicci Solomons, Hon. AIACC, Executive Director AIA/Los Angeles: a Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and Paul O’Connor, Manager, Marketing Communications, Holcim (US).
The Zero-Net High Performance School Energy Prototype design is the result of an open design competition held by LAUSD. As the second-largest school district in the USA, the selection of the design by Swift Lee Office is a perfect proving ground to test the prototype method and its new technologies for a high performance school building of the future. The design has been completed to the design development phase and is waiting for Measure Q funds (a voter-approved USD 7 billion fund for school repairs) to become available.
Architect and Principal of Swift Lee Office (SLO), Gloria Lee, explained that the LAUSD’s increasing focus on finding a prototype for a sustainable, flexible, easily-reconfigurable and programmatically-diverse learning environment matched the goals the architectural office had set itself. “As we look to the sustainable future, we are challenged to think differently about how we practice sustainable architecture and we saw great potential in customizable prototype design and in solving repetitive problems such as school design,” she said.
The design features an envelope for solar, thermal and acoustic control that enables the structure to achieve net-zero energy usage explained Architect and Principal of Swift Lee Office (SLO), Nathan Swift. “The students will learn something from the building that enhances their lives,” he said.
The construction comprises a “readymade kit-of-parts assembled from off-the-shelf components”, which, in alignment with the prototype character of the concept, can be composed site-specifically. They include modular panels to create a double façade for solar, acoustic, and environmental control to achieve a climate-responsive solution on each site. Additionally, other state-of-the-art features are applied successfully to reach a fully integrated technical system. The pre-fabricated structural system allows a column free interior, supplementing the desired flexibility. Secondly it helps to reduce the duration of construction, traffic, waste, and cost.