Volume 1, No. 4 - April 18, 2007
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BLAST - News and Notes from AIA Northern Virginia

Station at Potomac Yard
Station at Potomac Yard, LeMay Erickson Architects with Rust | Orling Architecture (more info)
The Green Issue

So Fast, So Numb

"Weeding" Out Green Products

Shaping the Future

Featured Project:
  Station at Potomac Yard


Featured Sponsor: Floortec Sales, Inc.

Visit the AIA Northern Virginia Website

So Fast, So Numb
by Matt Shuba, from Blacksburg

Students and faculty involved with Virginia Tech here in Blacksburg have been asked over and over by family, media and friends to articulate the experience of being in Blacksburg as the worst shooting in US History occured. To be honest, it was a very distant experience in the beginning; I was denied entrance to campus on Monday morning by armed police but could see down the road a sea of the flashing lights of dozens of ambulances. I went home and turned on CNN, and, for the next day or so my experience was no different than anyone in Alexandria, Los Angeles or anywhere else. I watched in horror as the tallies of dead and injured grew and details came to light. I watched CNN in silence as Governor Tim Kaine and President George Bush addressed the students and faculty who were lucky enough to get a place in Cassell Colisseum.

Last night there was a candlelight vigil on the Drillfield, Virginia Tech's main quad. For the first time since the shooting I had a connection to the place as I joined thousands of others outside, only this time not through the lens of a television camera. Students and faculty were mixed into the crowd with police, media members, politicians and residents of the town. People were in crimson and orange, in black, in uniforms, in groups and on their own. As dusk turned to darkness these distinctions were all obscured and all were silhouettes with candles raised. I was overpowered by the reality that I was part of this place where this terrible thing had happened, and in total disbelief that it had happened less than 36 hours previous. Like the faces around me and the University itself, I felt like I had aged an unnatural period of time during that one day.

I encourage you to make this connection for yourself, whether you are a student on the NCR campus, an alum or a well-wisher, by attending tonight's vigil in Alexandria.

Candlelight Vigil Tonight in Alexandria
Organized by the National Capital Region of Virginia Tech, there will be a candlelight vigil at 7:30p tonight on Market Square (300 Block of King Street, between Fairfax and Royal) in Old Town Alexandria in memory of those lost at Virginia Tech on Monday.

"Weeding" Out Green Products
by Eliza Beth Engle, AIA, LEED® AP

As architects today everyone has at least heard of "green" or sustainable products, even if you have never specified one. I am also pretty sure that you have had product representatives tell you that their product can give you LEED points, which all LEED Accredited Professionals will tell you is currently not possible. Products can help you achieve LEED points but you won’t get LEED points by specifying a specific product. Since green is going mainstream and lots of manufacturers are jumping on the green bandwagon, how can you tell if a product is really going to give you the sustainable properties that they say it will?

You don’t have to be a psychic to make the right material choices, you just have to learn how to weed out the information you are receiving. The best way to verify that a product is providing you the ‘green’ qualities it is touting is by independent third party certification. These independent testing agencies test products for qualities as varied as volatile organic compounds to certified well-managed forests. Some of the most commonly used third-party certifiers are Greenguard Environmental Institute, Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), Green Seal and Forest Stewardship Council.

There are several new systems that are being used to certify products based on varying criteria. One of these systems is the MBDC's "Cradle to Cradle" product certification system. It rates products under the five headings of 1.0 Materials, 2.0 Material Reutilization/Design for Environment, 3.0 Energy, 4.0 Water, and 5.0 Social Responsibility into three categories: silver, gold, and platinum. This certification signifies that the company has chosen the chemicals, materials, and processes for health and perpetual recyclability, while meeting the highest international regulatory and industry standards. If you have more interest in this topic, please send an e-mail to aianova@aianova.org with 'green products' in the subject line.

Greenguard Environmental Institute
Green Seal
Scientific Certification Systems
Forest Stewardship Council
MBDC Cradle to Cradle Certification

Shaping the Future
by Bill Brown, AIA, LEED® AP

Within the context of the release of the current global warming outlook from the IPCC's Climate Change 2007 report we as architects continue to design buildings. How well are we doing? Yes there are many architects doing important work but how do we balance a holistic design process with budgets, schedules, clients, engineers, green rating systems and ultimately excellent design. In consideration of our profession's goals to reduce the use of carbon consumption, I have to ask if we are we having the effective dialogues with our project collaborators from clients, manufactures, contractors, code officials and consulting engineers that we need to.

I believe that while federal and local governments, concerned clients and energized design professionals are doing what they can, it will be the general public that must be educated to make an effective change in living patterns. The buildings within which our children learn must be a focus of not only basic learning but an emersion in understanding deep ecology. The next generations must be taught in buildings that "walk the talk" about beliefs and commitments. These are no longer just "school houses" but have evolved into "centers of the community". They have an impact on a much larger segment of the population as life-long learning centers.

While meeting "green design" rating systems can enhance building performance (the new "LEED® for Schools" is about to be unveiled by the US Green Building Council), a deeper connection to the human-nature connection can leapfrog the quality of the design to the next level. One of the most important theorists promoting positive environmental impact in the built environment or "Biophic Design" is Yale’s Stephen R. Kellert (I recommend his book "Building for Life – Designing and Understanding the Human-Nature Connection"). Buildings can excite curiosity, inform and teach with deliberate design.

We still have a lot of work ahead of us to shape policy, raise public awareness and, most importantly, provide positive results in the built environment. Please join the NOVA AIA Committee on the Environment and actively help us in our effort to share ideas, educate ourselves and the public, and have some fun on the way. For more information and to join COTE, please send an email to cote@aianova.org.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
US Green Building Council
LEED® for Schools
Buy "Building For Life"

Featured Project

Station at Potomac Yard
Alexandria, VA
LeMay Erickson Architects with Rust | Orling Architecture

LeMay Erickson Architects, a 25 person Reston firm specializing in public safety, mixed-use residential, commercial, religious and interiors architecture, is the Architect of Record on an innovative LEED® Certified project in Alexandria. The Station at Potomac Yard, being developed through a public/private venture by Potomac Yard Development, LLC and the City of Alexandria is located in the Brownfield area previously used as a railway depot. The project incorporates the character of Old Town, while its mixed-use concept echoes the current trend of desirable urbanist environments. Sustainable design elements address the interests of Green design. Rust | Orling Architecture, the Associated Architect, is bringing its experience with the Potomac Yard area to design of the exterior of the building with LeMay Erickson.
Station at Potomac Yard Site Plan

Station at Potomac Yard

As part of their project, the developers are providing property and funding for a new fire station for the area. A unique aspect of the project is incorporation of 64 units of much needed workforce housing. The station, situated on the edge of a new park, will be a 24,000 sf, 4-bay LEED® Certified station atop two underground parking levels with 148 spaces. It will serve as a podium for four levels of apartments above. The workforce housing, financed by VHDA tax credits, is also slated to be the first EarthCraft Certified project in Northern Virginia.

In addition to being the first new fire station in Alexandria in 30 years, the combination of station and affordable housing is unique in fire house design.

Station at Potomac Yard


April 18 - Candlelight Vigil for Virginia Tech
7:30p, organized by the National Capital Region of Virginia Tech, there will be a candlelight vigil at Market Square (300 Block of King Street, between Fairfax and Royal) in Old Town Alexandria in memory of those lost at Virginia Tech on Monday.

April 22 - Walking Tour of Alexandria
1:00p-3:00p, beginning at the Lyceum, 201 S Washington Street, Old Town Alexandria. Tours lead by local architects. Held in correlation with the Glenn Brown Exhibit on display through April at the Lyceum. 2 AIA/CES HSW LUs. Free. Contact the Chapter House at reservations@aianova.org.

April 27-29 - ARE Prep Series: Structures with David Thaddeus, AIA
Weekend-long intensive course on the Structures Division of the Architectural Registration Exam offered by David Thaddeus, AIA. Additional details are available on the registration form, downloadable here.

April 30 - 2006 International Building Code (Nonstructural) Seminar
8:15a-4:00p, at PSA-Dewberry, 8401 Arlington Boulevard, Fairfax. CC Instructor, John M. Gibson, Jr. will address the critical concepts of the 2006 IBC: Nonstructural Provisions and provide a basis for the correct use of the code in building planning, fire-resistance-rated construction, fire protection systems and means of egress. 6 AIA/CES HSW LUs. $170 for AIA Northern Virginia members, $200 non-members. Visit the Virginia Society AIA webpage for more information and to register.

May 3-5 - AIA National Convention: Growing Beyond Green
This year's convention is in San Antonio, TX. For complete details and registration information, visit www.aiaconvention.com.

May 5 - ARE Prep Series: Materials and Methods
10:00a-2:00p at DMJM Design, 3101 Wilson Blvd., Suite 900, Arlington. The Young Architects Forum of the Northern Virginia Chapter AIA presents the Materials and Methods division of the 2007 ARE Prep Seminars. In addition, the YAF is organizing study groups that will meet weekly to share resources and discuss the seminar material. Please visit the ARE Page of the AIA Northern Virginia website for more information.

Beginning May 5 - "Sense of Place" Exhibit
At the Target Gallery of the Torpedo Factory, 105 N Union Street, Old Town Alexandria. A mixed media exhibition that embraces and expresses the idea of community and our place in the environment from the perspective of artists and architects. Admission is free. Open Wednesday through Sunday, Noon-5:00p

May 10 - "Sense of Place" Exhibit Opening Reception
6:00p-8:00p, at the Target Gallery of the Torpedo Factory, 105 N Union Street, Old Town Alexandria.

May 11 - Design Awards Entries Due
Due at 3:00p at the Chapter House. Please visit the Design Awards Page of the AIA Northern Virginia website for more information.

Featured Sponsor

Floortec Sales, Inc.
7444 Broken Staff, Columbia, MD 21045
Bronze Sponsor

Floortec Sales Inc. is proud to sponsor the Northern Virginia Chapter of the AIA. Floortec is a manufacturers representative group that specializes in "Green" Flooring. Tom Paxton, Floortec's founder and President, was the first to promote Eco Friendly Flooring and has been specializing in "Green" products since 1998.

We realize there are quality differences in all products, including "Green" products. Our manufacturers and importers are the top quality producers in the cork, rubber, wood, aluminum, and bamboo product categories. If you would like to know more about our products contact us at (301) 596-7407 or tom@floortec.net.

The website of Floortec Sales, Inc. is www.floortec.net.

Floortec Sales, Inc.