January 14, 2014

Theory and Practice

In addition to being a firm that has taken on many higher-education projects (e.g. LCCCKSU CAED, Muskingum, Ursuline), Bialosky + Partners Architects (BPA) has always been a supporter of academia.  For years, the office has - when possible - encouraged employees to teach part time at the Kent State University College of Architecture and Environmental Design.  BPA staff has taught courses ranging from architectural /interior design studios to materials and process in digital fabrication classes.  Nearly every semester, Kent State CAED professors invite designers of all trades and career-levels from our office to participate in architectural and interior design reviews throughout the year.  This continued engagement with the academic design process is as meaningful for our staff as it is for the students with whom we engage. The designers and architects in our office have had an impact on the program - for example: BPA Associate Matt MacRaild, AIA, who is currently helping Kent State University restructure a Design Process and Principles class.

Jack Bialosky Jr. at a fourth year interior design review.

This past fall I taught my third semester of Interior Design studio at Kent State University. I taught a fourth year interior design studio in conjunction with two other adjunct faculty members, where we guided the students in two projects that involved both architecture and interior design. Having degrees in both Architecture and Interior Design and professional experience in both fields, I often look for projects for the students that incorporate principles from both disciplines. The first project involved a major conversion of an abandoned textile mill to low-rise apartment building located in Mumbai, India. There were two main learning objectives that the students were expected to take away from the project. The first was how to research environment and culture in order to better understand design techniques around the world. The second was the expectation that the students were able to take their findings from that research and apply it to a design project.  The idea for this project stemmed from a research paper I collaborated on at the University of Notre Dame which reported on the condition of the mills in Mumbai, and the following research trip to India where our team spent a month studying the construction, proportion and cultural context of historic structures in India.   It was rewarding to see how the students interpreted physical and cultural context as they prepared their designs for the renovation of the Mumbai mills.

A view of the entry gate to one of the existing textile mill complexes in Mumbai, India.

The second project was a pop-up retail shop located on the lower level of the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge (aka Detroit-Superior Bridge) in Cleveland, OH.  This group project, inspired by the 2012 Cleveland Design Competition and the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative’s  Bridge Project, was a particularly difficult challenge for the students because of the extremely unique site condition and very minimal pedestrian/vehicular access.  The lower street car level has been abandoned for over 50 years with the exception of a few public events.  The 2012 Competition and Bridge Project were launched in hopes to help repopulate the beautiful structure.  The challenge of the pop-up shop prompted the students to study the history of the bridge, the surrounding context, and pop-up shops precedents in order to determine what use would be the best fit for Cleveland.  As the students began focusing in on the details for their retail spaces, each group also proposed a conceptual master plan for the full bridge with additional activities and shops.  With the location only 35 miles away from campus, we were able to take the students on a field trip to visit the site before the project began.

Students on a site visit of the lower level of the Veteran's Memorial bridge.


Working in groups allowed students to learn the values of teamwork and collaboration.


Students pin-up their work together during a mid-project review.

Not only has it been fun teaching students about design globally and locally, but it has been a valuable experience for me as well.  It’s amazing to see students collaborate on ideas and still be able to receive 34 different solutions for the same design problem.  Teaching a design studio enriches the design process and provides inspiration for projects both academically and in practice.

April 9, 2013

Market Square at Crocker Park Approved

Market Square, the next exciting phase of  Crocker Park, has been approved by the City of Westlake. This civic space provides various types of events throughout the year, and ultimately is a place where culture and life can be shared amongst the community. WKYC Cleveland visited our offices Friday to sit down with architect and planner David Craun to learn more about the developments of this project. Construction should begin in 2014.

 [embedit snippet="crocker-park-westlake-adding-new-attractions"]

Market Square Crocker Park Event Capacity

Crocker Park Market Square Street

Crocker Park Market Square Ice Rink

For more information check out:

> WKYC Cleveland

> Westlake Patch

> The Cleveland Plain Dealer

> The Morning Journal

> Fox 8 Cleveland

February 4, 2013

Das Passive House: Taking A German Approach

What is a “Passive House”? A passive house comes from the concept of an ultra-low energy building, using 90% less heating and cooling than your typical built home.  First becoming a mainstream idea in the 1970’s, passive home construction is making a comeback in the United States as “green architecture” and Global Warming hit center stage in the building industry.  Wolfgang Feist, a German physicist, set the first definitive bar in 1996 with the creation of the Passivhaus Standard.  Although there are surprisingly few mandatory requirements in this German standard, the Passivhaus calls for extremely strict performance criteria. (see PH requirements below) There is little question that alternative energy and active green building systems are the future of the United States and the world as a whole.  However the journey must unavoidably begin with making more efficient buildings first and foremost.     5 Key Elements (Breakdown of a Passive House) 1. Super Insulation

  • R-value minimums:  Typical cold climate R-values =  Walls: R40-60 Roof: R50-90 Sub-Slab: R30-50  (PH requirement =  U < 0.15 W/m2K,  Uw < 0.8 w/m2K )
  • No thermal bridging:   (PH requirement =  < 0.01 W/mK )   Thermal bridging occurs when a conductive material in the building envelope "bridges" thermal heat or cold between the inside and outside of the building.
  • Continuous Insulation:  Although there are many passive house envelope options, continuous insulation serves as the primary concept/strategy against thermal bridging.

  wall_insulation     2. Air Tight Construction Air tight construction is critical for passive houses to work. Air leaks are not only the biggest contributor to loss of energy but also infiltration of moisture, which effects the indoor humidity. (PH requirement =  must be below 0.6 air change/hr at 50 pascals )     3. Highly Efficient Windows Although not cheap or easy to find in the United States, triple glazed windows are an important building block to the success of a passive house.  It's also important that the windows have "warm edge" spacers and super insulated frames. Good window U-values fall between 0.2 - 0.3 with low-e coatings and Argon gas.  (PH requirement =  3-pane glazing,  Ug < 0.8 W/m2K,  g-value = 50-55%)   4. Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery Because of the strict requirements for air-tightness in a passive house, proper ventilation is critical in order to exchange stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air. (PH requirement =  mechanical heat recovery > 75% ) 5.  Solar Orientation & Shading Control The building's orientation on its site in regard to window placement and shading is one of the most efficient passive strategies to maximize the control of solar heat gain.  Although building orientation is not a Passivhaus requirement, it is a strategy that can have dramatic effects on the heating and cooling loads needed to maintain interior thermal comfort.   (PH requirement =  heat energy demand: < 15 kWh/m2a,  maximum heating load < 10 W/m2, frequency of overheating < 10%) Most of the building's exterior glazing should be located within 30 degrees of true South, gaining heat passively in the winter time.  Shading control in the form of roof and/or window overhangs, louvers, etc should by designed to block the steeper sun angles in the summer.  To supplement, building elements with thermal mass such as masonry or concrete can also be used to increase the effects of the passive solar heating by absorbing the solar gain and slowing releasing it for hours.         Local Case Studies

  Links & Resources


Bialosky Announces Transition Plan