June 27, 2013

BPA Puts Masonry + Moisture to the Test

Rainstorms can send a shiver up an architect’s spine - especially as a designer of brick buildings. Masonry is naturally porous. It can absorb a large amount of water, compromising the bond strength between the mortar and the masonry unit. Not only that, but it can easily discolor the building’s facade. Recently Bialosky + Partners Architects had a visit from Professional Products of Kansas, offering an interesting potential solution. Professional Water Sealant & Anti-Graffitiant is a “dual-purpose” silicone water repellent which provides an invisible protection from graffiti and moisture damage. The spray-applied repellent is recommended for brick, concrete, granite (and most horizontal surfaces) and will add years of weatherproofing protection to new or existing structures. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leKRODMRABs[/youtube] This silicone repellent can be applied as a single coat to protect the building from moisture, and an additional coat will protect the building from graffiti. The key with graffiti protectant is it can be non-sacrificial or sacrificial. A non-sacrificial protectant does not dissolve once graffiti is washed away, meaning there is no need to reapply. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1ITRh8I37A[/youtube]   Now, for the test on our own office building: After learning about this water sealant, BPA tested our very own brick office building, here in Shaker Square. Our waterproofing consultants helped set- the RILEM II.4 test, which simulates wind-driven rain up to 98 mph.

Bialosky + Partners Architects Cleveland Office - in the heart of Shaker Square.

RILEM II.4 test on our office building begins!

First, we fixed the RILEM tube to the testing-wall with a pinch of soft putty rolled to form a snake-like piece around the flat brim of the tube opening. It must be water-tight between the tube and the brick. We then filled the RILEM tube to the top mark of 0.0 mL and recorded the time.

Tracking the water during the test.

We checked intermittently at 1 minute intervals, but overall tested the wall for 20 minutes. (If the brick face or mortar joint absorbs 5 mL in 5 minutes, which is considered a failure of the test). We then measured the amount of water absorbed by the brick face, where we only absorbed 0.5 mL in those 20 minutes! So the brick face passed the test, but the building grout joints, which are the most common point of failure in a masonry system, failed this test.

While the building's masonry stood up to the test, the mortar joints absorbed quite a bit of water.

This product has been applied to several historic buildings in the area and would be a great product for our aging brick building.  BPA is excited to evaluate this product to improve our building’s water tightness and if applied, would be periodically tested and observed. BPA is looking forward to protecting and preserving many of our client's buildings too!

June 20, 2013

On The Boards: Ursuline College Center For Creative and Healing Arts

Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, OH, is launching phase one of an exciting new campus master plan, The Center for Creative and Healing Arts (CCHA). The state of the art 30,000 SF CCHA houses Art Therapy and Nursing programs and is targeted to open in Fall 2014. The project, acting as a front door to Ursuline, blends the college’s spare modern campus aesthetic with a welcoming warmth and contemporary playfulness. Purity of form and simply crafted details has been our project team’s design mantra.

Ursuline College Campus Context Map

The design process was driven through program adjacencies creating synergy between academic programs with new spatial relationships. The entrance atrium is envisioned as a connector:  its triple height stair will create new physical relationships with the adjacent science building, Dauby Hall and nearby Besse Library while also acting as a social connector providing needed lounge, study and meeting place for students. Additional phases plan for a farther expanded grand atrium, serving to act as Ursuline’s central social hub, which will be the campus’ largest gathering space. Additionally, new chemistry, biology, nursing, art labs and offices will encourage a culture of collaboration between previously disparate programs.

Conceptual Diagrams for the Center for Creative and Healing Arts

Conceptual Diagrams for the Center for Creative and Healing Arts

The new Center for Creative and Healing Arts is designed to raise standards for healthy, comfortable environments. The building’s layout and solar orientation of the fenestration influenced the design, aiming to maximize views and daylighting while minimizing summer solar heat gain.

Interior Rendering of the Urusline College Center for Creative and Healing Arts

Precise detailing allows minimal thermal bridging, which lends to a high performing building enclosure that minimizes energy usage throughout the year. The CCHA’s building enclosure systems are designed to outperform ASHRAE 90.1 energy code metrics by 50%.  The Variable Refrigerant Flow HVAC system is designed to outperform ASHRAE 90.1 by 55%, and a LED lighting package with daylight harvesting bests the code by 20%.

Urusline College Center for Creative and Healing Arts Window Sketches

The Center for Creative and Healing Arts, the first implemented phase of the Ursuline College master plan, projects a future of forward looking, contextual, well-crafted, and environmentally responsible architecture that gives physical shape to Ursuline College’s core mantra of Values, Voice and Vision.

Conceptual Interior Rendering of the Ursuline College Center for Creative and Healing Arts


April 17, 2013

New Service Department for Orange Village to Open Fall 2013

This fall, Orange Village, OH will have a brand new service department on Lander Road. The new 12,800 sf facility and 3,200 sf salt building will support the village’s service department, and provide a maintenance faculty for the service, fire and police vehicles.  Flexibility and efficiency were key design factors, which led to a timber frame pole structure. Notice in the construction photos, this structure allows the spaces to be free of columns that boast a versatile /open interior. As for sustainability, this type of pole construction also has the advantage of an energy efficient building shell, and the site itself encompasses bio-retention.


The project is now under construction alongside the city's existing Municipal Center. A few designers from office buckled up their boots, and visited the site Monday to see the large-spanning trusses installed (see the video if you couldn't visit the site).

[flickrvideo width="600" height="450"]http://www.flickr.com/photos/bialoskyarchitects/8658350052/in/photostream/[/flickrvideo]


Trusses awaiting installation.


About half the trusses were installed Monday, with the remainder installed today.


Orange Village's new Salt Building will store winter/ weather supplies for the city.


Detail of the Salt Building's retaining wall.

March 6, 2013

What’s The Big Deal With Continuous Insulation?

What’s The Big Deal With Continuous Insulation?

Continuous insulation (CI) has been an energy code requirement since the release of ASHRAE 90.1-2004, but unfortunately is still a bit of a mystery to many designers, contractors, and building officials.  So, besides complying with the building code, why do we need continuous insulation?  Thermal bridging through framing components reduces envelope insulation performance by 15-20% in wood frame construction and by 40%-60% in metal frame construction.  This means that a typical 6” metal stud wall construction with R-19 fiberglass batt insulation actually performs at a dismal R-9.  When CI is properly installed you get the approximate full R-value of the insulation material.  So, what exactly is continuous insulation?

ASHRAE 90.1 defines Continuous Insulation as insulation that is continuous across all structural members without thermal bridges other than fasteners and service openings. It is installed on the interior, exterior, or is integral to any opaque surface of the building.  With further research we find that the definition of “fasteners” is meant to include screws, bolts, nails, etc.  This means that furring strips, clip angles, lintels and other large connection details are excluded from the term “fasteners”.

This is where the big problem lies, and why the industry seems to be so confused.  Many designers, contractors, and building officials are still not informed about this important aspect of CI.  For example, masonry veneer wall construction typically employs steel relieving angles and steel lintels at window and door heads.  These steel angles are usually fastened directly to the building structure, providing a significant thermal bridge from the interior of the building to the exterior.  There are a number of solutions to this issue including welding the angles to standoffs at +/- 4’-0” centers, which allows the CI to be installed behind the angles to minimize the effects of thermal bridging.  There are also proprietary clip systems being marketed to perform this same function.

Another cause for confusion is the fact that many building claddings such as metal panels, fiber cement board/siding, etc. are not approved for attachment through more than 1” of non-supporting material.  In climate zone 5 we are required to have a minimum CI of 7.5, resulting in a CI thickness of about 1 1/2".  There are proprietary systems that have been developed to deal with this issue such as the DOW-Knight CI System .  This system has been engineered to allow up to 3” of continuous insulation to pass behind the girt supports.  If you or your client don’t desire to specify proprietary systems, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) commissioned a testing report that describes a number of other fastening system options for continuous insulation.  It’s a long read but has a lot of useful information regarding this matter.

In summary, the proper use of continuous insulation is all about paying attention to the details.  There are a growing number of resources out there aiming to help designers detail buildings properly.  A few of my favorites are www.buildingscience.com and www.bec-national.org .  Happy reading, and let’s keep it sustainable.

February 20, 2013

BPA Achieves LEED Silver for OSU’s Mason Hall Rennovation

Bialosky + Partners Architects teamed with Kallmann McKinnell & Wood Architects, a Boston-based firm with an outstanding international reputation for excellence in design in the last forty years, to design the renovation of Mason Hall for the OSU Fisher College of Business. The project included conversion of library stack and study space into a first floor student resource center with breakout rooms, conference rooms, a reading room and a café, and second floor offices, a learning center, shared flex space for students and temporary workers and multipurpose space for group study, receptions, presentations and symposia. Additional student and staff space was also renovated on the 3rd and 4th floors.

 Some quick facts about the project:

Year of completion: 2012

Total square footage: 31,000

Construction Budget: $4,000,000

Project team: Bialosky + Partners Architects in association with Kallmann McKinnell & Wood

Principal in charge: Bruce Horton

Project manager: Ryan Parsons

Interior designer: Tracy Sciano-Vajskop

MEP: Korda Engineering Inc, a sustainable-minded engineering firm, based in Columbus,OH, who has won over 90 engineering design awards.

Once we got the good news about the LEED Silver Certification, I sat down for a quick Q&A session with our Project Manager, Ryan Parsons, about the design choices and LEED process:

Q: What obstacles or opportunities were unique to the sustainable strategy for Mason Hall?

A: The greatest challenge was coordinating all of the supporting documentation with the many team members involved and making sure the information was formatted properly for submission  and/or translated correctly to the on-line forms.  Constant issues with the use of LEED On-Line with the newest versions of Adobe Reader or Acrobat made this challenge even more difficult.

Q: How fantastic to incorporate recycled content and recycled materials – what are the most special instances of this materiality at Mason Hall?

A: Many components of the project included recycled content – lay-in ceilings, acoustical ceiling plaster, acoustical wall and ceiling panels, metal studs, cabinetry, aluminum windows, structural steel, and de-mountable partitions are just some examples, but one with a “cool factor” was the unique solid surface material comprised of recycled paper with a 100% water-based binder system  used for work surfaces in the Café and Reception areas.

Q: When we think of green buildings, we typically think of systems. What innovative system strategies were put into play?

A: An energy saving lighting control system was provided that automatically adjusts light levels in each space based on the amount of natural lighting the space receives.  The system is flexible in that each space was provided with individual controls to override the system should tasks require more light.

Q: What was the most important take-away from this LEED project that can be applied to future projects?

A: It takes considerable time and effort from all team members to collect and format the information required for LEED Certification.  The earlier everyone starts the process the better.  Coordination and organization are critical in creating a LEED success story.