Culver City, CA, USA
Morphosis was looking to create a striking, sustainable new office space in the heart of Culver City. This architecture firm is well known for creating cutting-edge buildings to exacting standards, and Buro Happold was brought in to help them realize these credentials for their headquarters.
As net zero energy along with a high occupant satisfaction were top priorities for our client, our engineers worked closely with them to develop optimum solutions across a range of challenges. Initially, the sunny climate meant that solar heat gain was a concern. The team worked to create solutions to this challenge and create new means of ventilation.
Buro Happold advised that the building have solid south and east facades to prevent heat gain first thing and over the course of the day. A series of cantilevered steel shades were also incorporated within the design to further reduce the impact of the sun. These add a dramatic architectural feature and provide staff with a pleasant, shaded outdoor area to enjoy.
Having mitigated the negative impact of the sun’s rays, we then harnessed them as a source of renewable energy by mounting a 2,800ft2 expandable photovoltaic system on the roof. This has the capability to fulfill most of the building’s energy requirements. Our ventilation strategy was revolutionary, incorporating Monodraught® Windcatchers – the first ever installed in the US – into the roof. Adapted from ventilation methods used in desert environments, these are louvered steel boxes containing interior cross blades that both draw cool air into the building and extract hot air out.
A digital sensor controls the windcatchers during the day to maintain comfortable interior temperatures, and at night the louvers are fully opened so that cool air can flood in and freshen the space ready for the next day.
The design methods implemented at the Morphosis Studio not only work to reduce electricity demands but also to create high quality spaces that aim to improve the working environment for the occupants. For example, an emphasis on daylighting through diffused skylights and daylight control sensors not only improves energy efficiency, but also connects workers to circadian rhythms, which impact on the levels of wakefulness during the day.
The use of natural light improves how alert occupants feel during daylight hours, which in turn improves productivity. The combination of environmental features has resulted in a reported 5% increase in productivity amongst employees.