Archive for November, 2010

South Elevation of Buildings 4 & 5 Luxor Commercial Center Albemarle County, VA

Buildings 4 & 5 Luxor Commercial Center

When traveling into any city, one can’t help but witness the wide variety of architectural expression (or lack thereof) in the commercial buildings along the strip.  Often, what is built is little more than a cheap box with a sign out front.  It might serve the business purpose of the owner, but does little to enhance the public good.  Often what will emerge is a caricature of the local vernacular which fails abysmally because no one spent any time thinking of the massing and proportions or the reasons the vernacular looks as it does.  With a little effort and not much in the way of additional cost, these buildings could be so much more.

 When properly executed, buildings should create a sense of enjoyment for the everyday passer-by.  They should not be overwhelming to the pedestrian, yet still be inviting for the motorist.  Additionally, commercial development should be designed as to not create a blight on the local landscape.

 The buildings should be environmentally friendly in design and execution.  This begins as simply as making the best use of the construction materials.  Doing so results in less waste both at the point of extraction and reduction of the logjam that is the waste stream.  At the same point in the process, if proper care is taken in designing the building envelope and HVAC systems, the building becomes more energy efficient, again reducing taxation of the earth’s resources.  If a building is designed well, it will also increase the occupants’ productivity.

 Our latest project addresses all of these issues.  Luxor Commercial Center features two signature buildings fronting on Richmond Road in Charlottesville, Virginia.  The buildings are set up to break down the mass of 24,000 square feet of office space to a more human scale and reflect some of the materials palette of the area’s historic structures without attempting to look like 300 year old buildings.  When complete, there will be pedestrian space around the buildings which will create a place where the occupants of the buildings can sit outdoors and enjoy their lunch or a coffee break.


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Our local congressman recently attended an event promoting a local energy saving assistance program.  The aim of the program is to assist homeowners in identifying strategies to save energy through energy audits.  Under the program the energy auditor will hand the owner a list of things they can do to improve the energy efficiency of their home.  The program is a great community asset, and I applaud Congressman Perriello for supporting it.

 Once the energy wasting areas are identified, the homeowner will need to make some decisions about how to address the problems in a cost-effective manner.  All too often these days, such recommendations are made by a contractor who may be interested in selling more insulation or perhaps an HVAC system.  While doing this kind of thing can save the homeowner money, many energy saving projects have the potential to involve major renovations to one’s home.

 This is why the homeowner should hire a licensed architect or professional engineer, depending on what it is that they are trying to accomplish.  Often times, the addition of energy saving improvements can coincide with adding to or renovating space which will address the homeowner’s changing needs while improving the energy performance of the home.  Additionally, the architect or PE doesn’t have a financial interest in what strategies are utilized, so a thorough analysis of product choices can take place so the homeowner should get the most for his or her money.

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