A building going up in New York City will have a giant-size swimming pool under it.
Over in Newark, at the request of the Energy Department, the builders are drilling small holes through the outer walls of another new building.
In Milwaukee, even during the dead of winter, the computer room will be producing most of the heat for a major building instead of conventional boilers.
It's all part of a drive to conserve energy and beat the bill for heating and lighting and, says architect Richard Seth Hayden, the energy-induced revolution in building design is revving up. Hayden is the managing partner of Swanke Hayden Connell & Partners, a Manhattan architectural firm that, despite the construction slowdown, is still expanding and has just opened a Chicago office.
About the swimming pool building: Swanke Hayden Connell is the architect, ground will be broken next month and it'll be a 42-story office building on Madison Avenue between 53rd and 54th streets.
"We'll be cutting into Manhattan bedrock on the building site," Hayden says, "to create a pool bout 200 feet long and 30 feet deep that will hold 1.4 million gallons of water. In the winter, you'd be able to swim in it and in the summer the water would be too cold, so maybe you could fish in it."
Hayden's humorous reference to fishing and swimming is based on the function. The pool of water is designed as a storehouse of energy, able to furnish supplemental heat in winter, cold in summer, daytime or nightime. The key is the word storehouse. Ordinarily, if you want heat or air conditioning, you punch the button, energy flows and you get what you want. Ordinarily everybody punches the button at about the same time. For a variety of reasons, including conservation of energy, the utilities charge higher rates for the use of energy during those so-called peak hours.
The building will be able to make use of lower-cost, off-peak fuel to store energy for use as needed, lowering its own bills and to some modest degree allowing the utility to conserve energy.
That Newark building with the holes in the walls: Congress is in the process of passing legislation to stimulate the construction of energy-efficient buildings, and the Energy Department already is pushing research aimed at architectural innovation. For a Public Service Electric & Gas building in Newark, now being completed, Swanke Hayden Connell has installed a computer-based climatecontrol center and, among other things, a system for recycling heat and cool air. At the request of DOE, a series of three-eighths-inch tubes hooked to electronic measuring devices have been put through the walls of the 28-story building. What DOE wants is information on heat and cooling loss or gain through the building's skin and the effect of pressure differences inside and outside.
Hayden's firm, which also is doing the interior design for a 25-story addition to the Chicago Board of Trade building, is at work on the radical remodling of Northwestern Mutual Life's complex in downtown Milwaukee.
"The boilers won't be running in the building during the heating cycle," Hayden says. "Not one nickel will be spent on heat. We'll be capturing heat from the massive computer center and distributing it from the center out." h
Hayden says he now spends a third of his time in New York, a third in Chicago and a third on airplanes headed elsewhere. Elsewhere includes Washington, where semi-retired senior partner Albert Swanke keeps an eye on the new Library of Congress building and the controversial proposal, now making time, to redo the west front of the U.S. Capitol. (The firm was managing partner on the huge Library of Congress building and is one of several assigned to work on the Capitol project.)
In D.C., no building can be so high that it obscures the dome on the Capitol, and that brings up a point that may dictate a new trend in building.
"From the standpoint of energy efficiency," the 42-year-old Hayden says, "the most efficient form is a sphere; there's less outside skin to inside volume. The closer you can get to a ball, the better. Tall, thin structures are the least energy-efficient, so Washington, with its long, wide and low buildings is the most energy-efficient city in the country.
"In Milwaukee we were dealing with a structure only 16 stories high but encompassing 550,000 square feet. Our system wouldn't have worked in a 50-story building.