Friday, February 25, 2011

Springs Preserve Tour

It was an incredible honour to have Jeff Roberts provide the Ryerson Option Studio a tour of the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, Nevada.  As one of the chief designers over the project and advocates for sustainable and biomimetic design in the region, it was extremely appropriate to have him describe the strategies and challenges in designing in (what would be for many Canadian architecture students) an unfamilar climate. 

The tour was extremely thorough and allowed students to ask questions on topics from plant physiology to daylighting strategies to exhibit design.  Several interesting topics covered by Jeff on his tour included:

Design and Construction Systems
-the Springs Preserve campus had an ecclectic mix of wall assemblies (from rammed earth to strawbale, to conventional market systems), roof types (flat, butterfly, shed, etc.), and material palettes (weathered steel, paperstone, and other biodegradable composites)

Historic and Cultural Sensitivity
-the Springs Preserve is a rich archaeological site which is designed in such a way that the various sustainable systems and tourist activities do not adversely impact the existing conditions

Exhibit Design
-the spaces created and bounded by the Springs Preserve are designed to engage all senses for people of all ages
-though some activities are clearly focused on engaging youth and children there remain quite a number of interesting layers of exploration for adults (as displayed below)

Biomimetics as a System
-while traversing the desert conditions of the preserve, each plant or animal leveraged entire systems of mechanisms or components to produce a desired, efficient net effect
-biomimetics is not merely form-generation; rather it is the adoption of principles in nature that allow for efficient and effective results in a different condition

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