Pathways to Designing High-Performance Buildings
By Rick Reynolds
One of the challenges to building a durable, healthy, high-performance home or commercial building lies in determining who should design it. The range of choices and decisions are many, and expenses can easily mount without a firm hand on how to solve basic (or complex) design and engineering issues.
There are two main pathways to a high-performance design: contacting a reputable architect or architectural firm known for sustainable design, or engaging a design/build company with a reputation for environmentally sensitive architectural design and advanced building science.
Many of our projects are collaborations with other architectural firms: companies familiar with Bensonwood’s craftsmanship and sustainable construction capabilities, and looking to provide their clients with the quality and predictability of off-site fabrication. For these design firms, Bensonwood’s “CAD to Completion” engineering, energy, fabrication, and build support can lead to a higher percentage of designs that actually get built.
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When the management team of evoDOMUS, a Cleveland-based, design/build firm of beautiful, energy-efficient homes, decided to expand both its build capabilities and its geographic reach into the Northeast, they decided to partner with Bensonwood. According to CEO Alexander Kolbe:
“Bensonwood’s profound knowledge and workmanship made a huge impression on us. Our teams dovetailed beautifully and the result was a stunning and energy-efficient home that fulfilled our high expectations.”
Again, on the residential side, architect Steven Kieran, of Kieran Timberlake had this to say about collaborating with Bensonwood on an altogether new kind of architecture, its award-winning shore home, Loblolly House:
“…Bensonwood embraced our challenge. Most importantly, they stood out among American builders as the most comprehensive and advanced users of parametric modeling and computer-aided manufacturing. Working together, we built a single parametric model of Loblolly House, even before it went into shop fabrication.”
On the non-residential side, architect Bill McClay of McClay Architects said this about partnering on a LEED Platinum, Net-Zero Project:
“Working with Bensonwood on the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden Bosarge Education Center was a great benefit for meeting the owner’s tight construction schedule and energy-efficiency goals. The exposed timber frame supported the creation of large open spaces and brought the natural quality of wood into the building, connecting to the surrounding nature. As architects, coordinating with Bensonwood was an enjoyable, collaborative and instructive process. We look forward to our next opportunity to work together.”
The other option is to consider relying on a unified design/build firm, like Bensonwood, with all services in-house. Many of the processes are streamlined using this method, because the firm’s in-house architects, interior designers, drafters, engineers, project managers, energy specialists, and build teams can work seamlessly with the client to ensure information is not lost in translation and problems are not baked into the cake.
In the last decade or so, Bensonwood, known primarily for its elegant timberframe designs, began also designing and building fully panelized homes and public buildings with few or no heavy timbers. And through its creative use of new wood materials, like Nordic Lams (for high-strength beams and columns), and Cross Laminated Timbers, or CLTs (for exceptionally strong panels used for walls, floors, and roofs), along with its custom millwork, precise, off-site fabrication and rapid on-site assembly, Bensonwood can achieve virtually any architectural style, from traditional, to contemporary, to futuristic.
Ultimately, focusing on the high-performance outcome is paramount to getting the features, feel and quality expected of today’s sustainable buildings.
Want to find out how Bensonwood can realize your most important project?
Call or e-mail us. Find out why architects (as well as developers and builders) rely on Bensonwood’s ability to partner and collaborate to build more than just great quality homes and commercial structures, but a better, lasting experience.
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