Design Innovations Mark of Museum

This project is an architect’s dream for green design – or, perhaps more precisely – smart design.
The nearly 400,000-SF expansion proposed for the Tulsa Air and Space Museum – and hoped to be home for one of NASA’s space shuttle orbiters as they are retired – takes the best of new and older proven green and museum concepts and mixes them in a showcase of innovation.
Designed by Tulsa-based KPI Architects, Inc., the $100 million building would represent the latest in “a 52-year legacy of being ‘Earth friendly’ in the design of our projects,” said David A. Kindred Sr., KPI chief executive officer.
TASM is making a bid to become the permanent home for a shuttle and has filed a Request for Information with NASA, said Jim Bridenstine, director of TASM.
KPI was under contract to develop a master plan for the TASM site when Bridenstine asked the firm to develop the schematic design for a shuttle expansion to accompany the RFI.
The structure would include a 240,000-SF, 15-story wing designed for the space shuttle.
“We are very excited to have been commissioned by the Air and Space Museum to develop the design for the future facilities, which now includes the possibility of housing the space shuttle,” Kindred said. “The inclusion of the shuttle, however, has created a whole new set of environmental issues.”
While the technology designed into the structure looks like a shopping list for a green architecture primer (See details of Green Tech, page 12), the space shuttle and massive scope of the building itself tempers or eliminates the use of some systems and requires a creative twist in the use of other technology.
One of the primary goals of protecting the shuttle from UV rays, forced the architects to adopt design concepts that are opposed to accepted “green” methods.
“This is kind of like reverse passive architecture,” said Richard Brenner, KPI vice president, referring to the materials used in the building and the orientation of the structure. “Because it is a museum, you have to approach it from a different aspect than a normal building.”
“What we are mainly looking at concerning the way the building envelope works is visibility,” Brenner said. “The way you would handle a house situation, you would try to collect passive heat. Here what we are trying to do is protect an object inside and get a visibility to the street.”
As a result, the bulk of the glass faces the road to the north and east and large overhangs on the south limit sunlight. Other standard green design aspects includes the use of light-colored materials on the exterior of the building; the use of recycled and renewable materials, such as carpets; dual switching in all the overheads lights and the use of high efficiency T-8 bulbs and ballasts.
The next step in technology used includes geothermal wells in the HVAC system, displacement ventilation, motion sensors that automatically dim lights in unoccupied rooms, light sensors that adjust interior lighting as harvested daylight levels change, water reclamation for irrigation, a combination of solar panels for heating water and providing a limited amount of power and a centralized Energy Management System. In addition, the design calls for the use of LEDs for lighting and for a giant 100-by-80-foot LED screen backlighting the shuttle.
“LED is somewhat new in the market, and it is just now being used in the concept of environmental lighting,” Alex Kindred said. “LED has zero heat emission, it is energy efficient to use, it provides good ambient lighting and, in conjunction with the use of natural lighting we have used in the all-glass structure, we have really cut down our overhead lighting. I don’t want to put a percentage on it, but it will save the museum a ton of costs not only in construction but in daily use.”
The most significant innovation introduced in the design of the building is in the use of light sensors linked to the Vision Glass walls around the shuttle and controlled by the EMS to darken and lighten the panels to limit UV exposure, said Alex Kindred, KPI vice president.
“We will have solar sensors on the outside, so depending on where the sun is will determine which windows will be tinted,” said Scott Kindred, KPI vice president. “In doing that, you are also going to cut down drastically on the energy cost – what it is going to take to air condition a monster like this.”
“It also provides this really cool aspect of cascading tinted glass as the sun sets,” Alex Kindred said. “Some of the stuff we are have come up with, we are using somewhat innovatively. The daylight sensors really are not meant to be used in conjunction with this tinted glass concept, but it works. We think it is a really cool way to display the shuttle, to the outside and the inside, and the rest of the exhibits as well while maintaining a safe environment for the articles being displayed.”
While the KPI team incorporated a great deal of green technology in the design of the TASM expansion, it decided to limit the use of solar to heating water and possibly powering the LED screen and left out other concepts altogether.
“What makes this building unique is we do what we consider smart design, not necessarily green design,” Alex Kindred said. “All our buildings are green – we use the latest technology and the oldest technology to make them green buildings. We think it through it and say, it would be really great to use solar and wind energy to power the building, and it would get our names in all the papers and we would get awards, but it is not beneficial for the client and it doesn’t work for the building or the site. It is too massive a building.”

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