Friday, December 28, 2012


Lets check up on Progress of Solar Roadways

Solar powered parking lot concept gets huge grantScott and Julie Brusaw are ready to show the world that we could build solar-collecting, energy-producing, safe and smart roadways.
And by ready, they mean everything is in place. The Sagle, the Idaho couple’ s Solar Roadways enterprise, received a $750,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the federal highway administration last week to fund an ambitious second phase of their project that will result in a complete and functioning solar parking lot outside of Brusaw’s lab.
Solar Roadways had already made inroads with the highway administration when the concept gained serious traction at the GE ecomagination competition last year.
Now Solar Roadways is getting some attention, and it’s becoming easier to find needed resources, Scott Brusaw said.
The greatest roadblock to seeing the idea through to the end has been finding the right glass to cover roadway solar panels, Brusaw said. The glass has to be clear in order for the panels to work, but textured enough to give drivers traction.
“We found a glass sidewalk panel in New York City,” Brusaw said. “It’s perfect.”
He said the panel manufacturers know what they’re doing and have created a glass panel designed to keep pedestrians safe in all weather conditions that’s still perfectly clear.
The strong, textured glass completes Brusaw’s vision, and he now has everything he needs to build a solar parking lot.
But having the glass nearly in his hands has led him to another idea, a way to make the solar roadway concept even more amazing and useful.
“We’re going to work together on forming prisms in the glass,” Brusaw said. “We think we can concentrate the sun onto the solar panels and get greater efficiencies.”
Brusaw said he thinks the money from the grant should be enough to finish a prototype parking lot—just exactly enough with no room for errors or experimentation, he said.
For that reason he’s still fundraising to try to supplement the grant money and allow a little wiggle room in the prototype development.
“If everything were to go perfectly, we could be finished in two years,” Brusaw said of the prototype parking lot. “But that’s if everything were to go perfectly. I expect to run into a few problems.”
Years ago, when the phrase "Global Warming" began gaining popularity, we started batting around the idea of replacing asphalt and concrete surfaces with solar panels that could be driven upon. We thought of the "black box" on airplanes: We didn't know what material that black box was made of, but it seemed to be able to protect sensitive electronics from the worst of airline crashes.
Suppose we made a section of road out of this material and housed solar cells to collect energy, which could pay for the cost of the panel, thereby creating a road that would pay for itself over time. What if we added LEDs to "paint" the road lines from beneath, lighting up the road for safer night time driving? What if we added a heating element in the surface (like the defrosting wire in the rear window of our cars) to prevent snow/ice accumulation in northern climates? The ideas and possibilities just continued to roll in and the Solar Roadway project was born.

Our latest video - by Michele Ohayon
In 2009, we received a contract from the Federal Highway Administration to build the first ever Solar Road Panel prototype. During the course of its construction, we learned many lessons and discovered new and better ways to approach this project. These methods and discoveries are discussed throughout this website. Please enjoy and send us any questions that you may have. This YERT video is featured in their full-length documentary, now being screened across the U.S. For a screening or presentation near you, click on the following "YERT plate":


After successful completion of the Phase I SBIR contract, we were awarded a follow-up 2-year Phase II $750,000 SBIR contract by the Federal Highway Administration beginning in 2011. With this award, a prototype parking lot will be built and then tested under all weather and sunlight conditions.

The heart of the Solar Roadway™ is the

Solar Road Panel™

The Solar Roadway is a series of structurally-engineered solar panels that are driven upon. The idea is to replace all current petroleum-based asphalt roads, parking lots, and driveways with Solar Road Panels that collect energy to be used by our homes and businesses. Our ultimate goal is to be able to store excess energy in or alongside the Solar Roadways. This renewable energy replaces the need for the current fossil fuels used for the generation of electricity. This, in turn, cuts greenhouse gases literally in half.
Solar Road Panel

Solar Road Panel

Each individual panel consists of three basic layers:

Road Surface Layer - translucent and high-strength, it is rough enough to provide great traction, yet still passes sunlight through to the solar collector cells embedded within, along with LEDs and a heating element. It is capable of handling today's heaviest loads under the worst of conditions. Weatherproof, it protects the electronics layer beneath it.
Electronics Layer Contains a microprocessor board with support circuitry for sensing loads on the surface and controlling a heating element. No more snow/ice removal and no more school/business closings due to inclement weather. The on-board microprocessor controls lighting, communications, monitoring, etc. With a communications device every 12 feet, the Solar Roadway is an intelligent highway system.
Base Plate LayerLayer - While the electronics layer collects energy from the sun, it is the base plate layer that distributes power (collected from the electronics layer) and data signals (phone, TV, internet, etc.) "downline" to all homes and businesses connected to the Solar Roadway. Weatherproof, it protects the electronics layer above it.

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Friday, December 14, 2012


Dutch studio MVRDV has given the new Oslo headquarters for Norwegian bank DNB a pixellated appearance by building a stack of brick and glass cubes.
The irregular arrangement of the six-meter wide cubes creates recessed openings across the facade, which MVRDV has used to add sheltered terraces to each floor and a new route from the waterfront towards the nearby railway station. 

DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV

MVRDV completes DNB Bank Headquarters main building in Oslo
The central building of DNB’s new bank headquarter cluster developed by Oslo S Utvikling (OSU) is completed. The MVRDV designed main building has 17 unique floors and a surface of 36,500m2. The pixelated volume based on small-scale working units adapts to the various influences of the urban context, combining an efficient and flexible internal organisation with a variety of specific communal spaces such as the main entrance lobby, a transparent trading floor, a sheltered public passage, respect for urban view lines and collective terraces overlooking the fjord to the south. The glass and brick exterior expresses both the transparency and stability of DNB as a modern financial institution.

DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV

Above: photograph is by Jeroen Musch
The development of the new headquarter cluster is a strategic operation concentrating the DNB offices formerly spread out over Oslo at one location, aiming for synergy and a clear identity. The objective was to translate the social and democratic character of the organisation into a building with excellent working conditions and spatial qualities that would stimulate efficiency, identity and collaboration.
The design is based on an ideal work group of the bank, a pixel of 6×6 metres, whose versatility permits adaptation to the flexible nature of the organisation. Besides more than 2,000 flexible work spaces the building contains a panoramic 140 seat canteen on the top level, the executive lounge with a view over the fjord, the board room, in the heart of the volume DNB’s trading room with 250 work stations, and the main entrance with the reception and access to the concourse that connects to the two neighbouring volumes. The collective spaces are connected by a staggered continuous internal route of collective terraces, all being executed as glass pixels, encouraging informal meetings and communication between employees.

DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV

Above: photograph is by Jeroen Musch
This route meanders from the reception upwards through the building, connecting all 17 levels office levels with the communal areas. A series of wooden stairs and bridges allow employees to switch levels or even to walk up to the canteen on one side of the building and down on the other side. The route accommodates communal areas to the office floors and is made homely with a series of pantries, informal meeting areas, reading-rooms, lounges and fire places. It gives access to the various outdoor terraces and roof gardens. All these collective spaces offer views to the surroundings and transparency from out side. The route is naturally ventilated and has a high performance glass fit for the cold Norwegian winter.
The generic office floors recline and are recessed in various places to answer to the urban context creating communal indoor and outdoor areas and outstanding daylight conditions. At street level the building volume is opened to give space to sheltered entrance zones, and intersected by a public passage creating a public route between Oslo Central Station and the fjord. The pixelated design allows this specific response whilst being highly efficient and flexible. As a result, every floor of the building is both unique and generic: the pixelated volume makes the generic specific.

DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV

Above: photograph is by Jeroen Musch
The structure is conceived as a steel rack wrapped in a brick skin, covering all exterior terraces, walls and ceilings with bricks, which adopts Norwegian environmental standards and gives a human scale to the building. It appears as a rock, a strong shape within the boundaries of the Barcode.
The international Norwegian financial institution DNB decided to concentrate their twenty office locations currently dispersed over the city in the Bjørvika Barcode, an urban plan by MVRDV / DARK / a-lab next to Oslo Central Station. In 2007, the masterplan team was commissioned by developer OSU to design the urban concept for DNB’s headquarter complex. A new cluster of three volumes (80.000m2) and a common basement with a 3,000m2 underground concourse, which interlinks the three buildings of the bank, was developed. MVRDV was commissioned as architect for the central main building and co-responsible for the urban concept and concourse.

DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV

Above: photograph is by Jeroen Musch
MVRDV has collaborated with Norwegian co-architect DARK Arkitekter AS and various Norwegian engineering firms. Project management is executed by Norwegian firm Vedal Project AS. The second building of the DNB cluster is designed by A-lab and the third building by Dark Arkitekter, within the overall Bjørvika Barcode masterplan. The cluster will be officially opened May 14th 2013.
DNB is the largest financial services group in Norway. The Group consists of brands such as DNB, Vital, Nordlandsbanken, Cresco, Postbanken, DnB NORD and Carlson. In 2003, MVRDV, together with Norwegian firms Dark and a-lab, won the competition for the Bjørvika waterfront development with the design of the Bjørvika Barcode; a dense, open and differentiated urban master plan along Nyland Allé, that is developed and realised by OSU in phases. DNB Life Insurance (DNB Scandinavian Property Fund) bought the 3 buildings last year for 4,8 billion Norwegian krone.

DNB Bank Headquarters by MVRDV

Friday, December 7, 2012

Museum Plaza Proposal

Museum Plaza rethinks conventional attitudes towards property development. It begins with a vision to construct a contemporary art institute and concludes with a business pro forma that supports this commitment. Culture is placed physically and spiritually at the project’s center.

To support the capital and operational costs of a 3,700 m² (40,000 sf) art institute, a development of over 141,800 m² (1,530,000 sf) is needed. To avoid over-saturating Louisville’s market with any single commercial program, its uses are necessarily mixed, including luxury condominiums, hotel, offices, loft apartments, and retail.

The economic and dimensional imperatives of the project are resisted by the physical constraints of Museum Plaza’s site. Located within the Ohio River’s 100-year flood plain, between a levee wall and an interstate highway, the site is a disparate set of parcels with no immediate relationship to Louisville’s Central Business District. The site is further complicated by a subterranean electrical utility right-of-way and several arterial streets.
Convention would typically position the public program-both cultural and commercial-at street level and the profit-making towers above. This strategy is not possible at Museum Plaza, as the site would cut off any ground-level public program and position the towers implausibly close to each other.

To liberate these conditions, the plinth of public program (the “Island”) is elevated 24 stories aloft and the towers evenly distributed above and below.
The luxury condos and offices above and the hotel and loft apartments below are profit machines: their areas, plans, and views are dictated by the market, optimizing financing and maximizing rents and sale prices. The towers’ independence allows each to be designed and financed on its own terms, and renders the unusualness of the overall massing less consequential.
By keeping the towers discrete, their dimensions and the resulting pro forma remain adjustable-like a stereo equalizer-during the project’s design. Market exposure is thereby reduced to only three months-the time between submitting the exterior envelope for wind tunnel analysis and starting construction on the foundations based on the analysis’ results.
In contrast to the towers, the Island houses all the unique and public elements of the development, both cultural and commercial. By isolating the project’s uniqueness within the Island, difficulties such as exiting, circulation, and security are also contained. Creation of construction documents for the rest of the building is thereby accelerated, and construction started over a year before the Island’s design is complete.
The collision of cultural and commercial uses within the Island (galleries, pool, auditorium, bar, education spaces, gym, restaurant, hot shop, ballroom…) provides fruitful opportunity to question the typology of a contemporary art institute. Museum Plaza advances several issues facing art institutions, including gallery flexibility, synergy between culture and commerce, and procession.
The two normative gallery typologies-the white box and (since Bilbao) the articulated box-challenge their institutions’ operational budgets. With the white box, institutions must spend copious funds to invent unique environments for each new show. With the articulated box, institutions must spend copious funds to quiet the architecture’s voice for each new show. Museum Plaza’s galleries combine the white box’s flexibility with the uniqueness of the articulated box. Two large, easily repartitioned galleries are stacked in the middle of the Island.

Seemingly banal, the galleries are rendered unique by several remarkable views-one up between the towers, one down 24 floors to the park beneath-and a revolutionary design for the galleries’ perimeter walls.
Many living artists do not want to operate within institutional walls. Preferring to operate on real life, on real community, on real activity, artists increasingly shun the very institutions that are trying to house them. Museum Plaza overcomes this conundrum by bleeding culture and commerce together without compromising the galleries’ performance. A simple dot matrix, when rendered in color (including white), is perceived by the brain as opaque; when rendered in black, the brain perceives the matrix as transparent. By applying this basic optical effect to the galleries’ perimeter walls, art permeates into the everyday activities of the restaurant, cocktail bar, spa, gym, and swimming pool. Yet, the galleries maintain the pristine quality of a white box for the art patron. The galleries’ translucency allows art to perform in a whole new way-to both “see” and be seen-generating a new kind of energy and interaction between the art and the viewer.

By applying this basic optical effect to the galleries’ perimeter walls, art permeates into the everyday activities of the restaurant, cocktail bar, spa, gym, and swimming pool. Yet, the galleries maintain the pristine quality of a white box for the art patron. The galleries’ translucency allows art to perform in a whole new way-to both “see” and be seen-generating a new kind of energy and interaction between the art and the viewer.And the non-ticketed spaces, including shop, education, auditorium, and event space, serve as the main circulation for the entire Island, reinforcing the mix between culture and commerce.
The Loop’s ultimate architectural manifestation is a plate, bent to tie the cores together and to reach the cardinal points of the galleries and commercial areas.

The central galleries and their glass walls create a space for art that is not an enclosed temple, separate from life and commerce, but one which allows a range of interactions with art, from the peripheral to the engaged.
In most large developments, culture is an afterthought, a bone thrown to mollify a municipality. Museum Plaza invents the program for, and then realizes, a vehicle that literally and metaphorically places art at its center, challenging the art institute’s typology in the process.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development could approve a $100 million loan for the stalled, 62-story Museum Plaza skyscraper in downtown Louisville if developers secure a commitment for construction financing.
If HUD approves the loan, it would be a big step toward getting the $465 million mixed-use project off the ground and creating thousands of jobs in the community.

Loan expected to help developers with financing

The state of Kentucky in July applied for the HUD loan on behalf of the Museum Plaza partners as a way to help fund construction of the project, planned for Seventh and Main streets.
Specifically, the Kentucky Department for Local Government applied for the HUD Section 108 Loan, which would be granted based on plans for creating permanent and temporary jobs for as many as 7,000 people in Jefferson and surrounding counties.
The HUD response is “a very positive step forward” and should help the developers as they seek additional financing, Greenberg said. “Work remains to done before we can get the financing. We’re confident we will get it completed.”

Partners have invested $50 million

The Museum Plaza project, announced more than five years ago, is being developed by husband and wife art collectors Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown, developer Steve Poe and Greenberg.
Brown’s family founded Brown-Forman Corp.(NYSE: BFB), and she and Wilson are partners in 21c Museum Hotels and Kentucky Bison Co.
Greenberg, a lawyer with Frost Brown Todd LLC, said that the partners already have invested $50 million of their own money in the development of Museum Plaza.
He added that they’ve made “tremendous progress” moving the project forward during “extremely challenging times.”
The proposal for Museum Plaza, which is planned for a site roughly bounded by West Main, Sixth, Seventh streets and River Road, calls for a contemporary art museum, a Westin and a limited-service hotel, 300,000 square feet of Class A office space, shops and condominiums.
Plans also call for a public park and an 850-space parking garage.

Construction work stopped in 2008

Ground was broken on the project more than three years ago, but site work was halted in 2008 because of delays in securing permanent financing for the project. It originally was slated to be completed in late 2010.
According to previous Business First reports, other funding for the project is to include:
• $90 million covered by bonds repaid through Tax Increment Financing district proceeds;
• $45 million from Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government;
• $26.5 million from the University of Louisville, which has discussed locating its fine arts and possibly its graduate business school programs in the Museum Plaza complex;
• $15 million from bonds supported by philanthropic contributions from arts patrons.
The project is expected to create 4,500 construction jobs and 2,300 “permanent” jobs for workers in the building after it’s completed.
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