LD 1190 A72 1978 S747
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ARCH STUDENT PAPER
design for an addition to
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Wheatridge Junior High School
Roberta Klose Stenberg University of Colorado, Denver
Spring Semester 1978
BACKGROUND AND HISTORY
My thesis project is a junior high school addition using natural energy systems. Wheat Ridge Junior High (WRJH) is located in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, a small city directly west of Denver (see location map). The new 22,000-square foot (SF) building will complement the existing main classroom building and will replace five smaller buildings that are located west of the main building. The facility will serve 750 children in grades 7 through 9.
The new addition will include an auditorium/cafeteria, a kitchen and a teachers' lounge and dining area. Also included will be a science area with four instructional spaces, a prep room/office, and a storage room; an art area comprised of two studios, an art office and storage, and an outdoor art patio; a technical vocation area including two labs and an office; and supportive space which will include corridors, mechanical equipment, bathrooms and custodial space.
Parts of the existing main building were built in 1896. Extensive renovations were made through the years, and the front facade and most of the main building date from 1936, when the school was used as a combined high and junior high school. When Wheat Ridge High School opened in 1957, the building was used exclusively as a junior high school. Further extensions to the main building were added in 1963 and 1972.
The site is comprised of 18.8 acres, three blocks east of Wadsworth Blvd. on 38th Avenue in Wheat Ridge. It fronts on 38th between Upham Street and High Court, and extends north to include Reed Street Stadium and Stevens Elementary School. (Reed Street Stadium is one of two large stadiums used by Jefferson County for high school football games.) The part of the site on which the junior high school is located is the southwest portion bordered on the west by Upham Street, on the south by 38th Avenue, and on the east by High Court, extending back to the stadium area but not including it. It
contains approximately 7 acres. No large buildings or trees prevent the sun from reaching the site at any time during the day.
The areas surrounding the site are made up of residential and small commercial development. The neighborhood surrounding the school is run-down and unattractive, with little or no landscaping to soften the views.
I. The following information is from a tape made during a walking tour of the site last summer. Present at the time were Robert Strange, architect for the project, Wheat Ridge Junior High School Principal Jerry Wanser, and Jefferson County School District Architect William Coppock. Several objectives were discussed. Wanser's goal was to be able "to go from one building to the next under one roof," a commentary on the extremely fragmented character of the building complex as it exists. Coppock would like "to make the building flexible enough so we can live with it for a long time"; he speaks of the present complex as being "band-aided together," and indeed that is the impression one gets. Improving student safety on the 38th Avenue side of the site, by "tunneling kids to the intersections" to cross at the traffic lights, was a goal mentioned by Wanser. Other major objectives were to improve drainage on the site, to attempt to solve the parking problem, to improve ventilation in the existing building, and to improve the appearance of the site through landscaping.
It was suggested that use be made of the auditorium/cafeteria area for teaching and for student council meetings.
The space is to be designed first as an auditorium and secondly as a cafeteria. The restrooms should be near the outside
of the building for easy access from the playground area, and for use by the community during various holiday celebrations and community events that are traditionally held on the school grounds.
II. Summary of meeting with Jerry Wanser, Wheat Ridge Junior High Principal, February 17, 1978:
Student access to site: Most of the students live south and southeast of the school and enter the site from these directions. The buses unload at the southeast corner of the site also. Students are encouraged to enter the building immediately because of the heavy traffic on 38th Avenue. Mr. Wanser would like to see the new auditorium/cafeteria become a place for congregating and waiting before school in the morning.
Impact on 38th Avenue: Noise, dirt and dust, and a safety problem result from the high volume of traffic on 38th Avenue;
over 17,000 cars per day. Students have been hit by cars but none injured.
Parking: Staff parking is a major problem. (Students are not allowed to park cars near or on site.) Teachers complain
about lack of parking space and merchants complain because teachers are taking their customers' spaces. Present need:
55 spaces for staff and several for visitors.
Playground area: The large playing field behind the building complex is used for Reed Street Stadium parking during the football season in the fall and the soccer season in the spring. This results in litter, broken glass, ruts and the
killing of sparse grass in the area. Mr. Wanser feels that paving the entire field with asphalt would solve parking,
maintenance and clean-up problems and still allow the area to be used in a variety of ways for physical education activi-
ties during school hours.
Utilities: All utilities will plug into the main building, which has a gas-fired steam heating system. Exterior sun-control louvers were put on the south and west windows of the main building and west building in 1962. This was necessary because there is no air conditioning or ventilating system in the old school.
Summer use of the school: The school is used only occasionally in the summer by the Wheat Ridge recreation program. There are no plans in the foreseeable future for year-round school sessions.
Number of students: The complex is planned for 750 children.
III. Summary of meeting with William Coppock, Architect for Jefferson County schools, February 10, 1978:
We talked about school energy use and Mr. Coppock pointed out that overheating was the usual condition. A need for heating ventilating make-up air usually exists in the winter, however.
The ventilating needs of a school call for six air changes an hour in classroom spaces, including a minimum of 5 CFM outside ventilating air per student. Thirty kids per classroom X 5 CFM/student of outside air equals 150 CFM.
For total air movement: 9 ft. classroom ceiling x 800 SF classroom area =. 7,200 cubic feet
Much heat is generated in a school. Sources include sun through windows, body heat and heat from machinery and
200 BTUH/student x 30 (kids per classroom)
6,000 BTUH produced by one classroom
3 watts/SF required lighting level
x 3.14 BTU/watt
9 plus BTUH/SF
800 SF (classroom area) x 9 BTUH
Also, in this addition we will have heat generated by equipment such as a foundry and motors in tech voc, a kiln in the art area, and stoves and ovens in the kitchen area.
School operates between 8:30 and 2:30. The heating and ventilating system should be started as required to bring room (temperature) to minimum requirements and shut off one hour after school ends. Often inefficient management by the custodian results in energy waste.
Coppock showed me an energy-use breakdown for Kullerstrand Elementary School, 29,500 SF, which two of my children attend. Natural gas accounts for $3,181 of the dollar amount and electricity for $4,539, for a total energy cost of $7,720. The electricity used is mainly for fans and lights. The gas used is for heating, and includes cooking and domestic hot water.
The R-l school district requires that a building not exceed 25 BTUH loss per SF of space, excluding ventilating requirements.
IV. Discussions with Robert Strange, Architect for the actual WRJH addition which is currently under construction.
Because I intern at Strange's office two mornings a week I have had the opportunity to discuss the project with him whenever I felt it was necessary and he had the time. He has supplied me with much practical knowledge, information, and has critiqued my site and building design. He has given advice on materials, structure and facility layout, as well as supplying me with data from client/architect meetings, soil report information, and the like.
Tour of Aspen Airport, January 1978
There are very few passive solar buildings in existence in our area. Therefore, a tour through the Pitkin County Air Terminal building was a very enlightening experience for me. Expecially noteworthy is the use of the Beadwall and Skylids to insulate the collecting window areas at night. Many of the passive solar principles I read about are incorporated into the building. I am impressed with the character of the building, brought about in part through the use of passive solar design.
VI. Discussion and Tour of Site with Joe Stampfel, WRJH Custodian
Joe took me on a tour through all the buildings of the school site. We started with the main classroom building, and he described the extent of the additions and the date of each. Then we walked through the west classroom building, where languages are taught, through the tech voc and remedial reading buildings, and on through the cafeteria building.
Joe felt that the old school was in good condition, with the exception of a need for new lavatories, doors and door jambs. He objected to all the stairs he had to climb to cover three floors.
1. Improve the appearance of the school site and neighborhood area with a building that will add a positive aesthetic quality to the environment, with attractive outdoor spaces that people will like using and experiencing.
2. Create a new entrance to the complex, one that will be more attractive and inviting, and which will be safer for the students.
3. Design a building which will be energy-conserving and which will use the sun to supply heat and light.
4. Find a satisfactory solution to the parking problem without compromising the playground area.
It was obvious from the data collected and from my observations what was lacking. The students needed a place to congregate and socializean outdoor area that would be cordial, welcoming, safe and protected from weather.
The idea to use the north and west building perimeters as a protective shelter for this space, with the auditorium/ cafeteria with its glass collector area at the center or core, seemed in keeping with the passive solar concept. This would create a new entrance to the complex. The bus loading and unloading would be changed from a southeast corner of the site to the front to reinforce the concept.
Passive solar techniques are centuries old, having been used with great ingenuity in many types of buildings all over the world. Because of our infatuation with the advances of technology over the last century, we have for too long ignored the free contribution that nature can make. We have alienated ourselves from interaction with our natural environment, have imagined that our needs can be fulfilled only by complex inventions and expensive gadgets.
The critical shortage of fossil fuels has caused us to reexamine our values. A solar heated school, in its relationship to the land and to the community it serves, can embody our most profound feelings about living with nature and
society. By the appropriateness of its design, it can bring into form the ideals by which we hope our youngsters will live.
In a more practical vein, passive solar design makes sense'. The advantages are obvious: little or no maintenance; low initial cost; no pollution; early payback; and little dependence on non-renewable resources.
Rick Cowlishaw, Architect for the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, and currently involved in programming for a new passive solar classroom building, made this comment when describing his feelings on the subject: "Once you have designed a building using passive solar, you will never design any other way." I believe this, simply because the principles are so naturally appropriate and convincing. Beauty in our environment will result only when we work in harmony with nature and not against it.
When I began this project I had the traditional definition of a passive solar system in mind: the building itself acting as a solar collector, a solar storehouse, a distributor, and as a heat trap. J. D. Balcomb gives this definition: "when the thermal energy flow is wholly by natural means, and when solar energy contributes more than half the total outside energy requirements, then the building is referred to as a passive solar-heated structure."
The definitions became somewhat troublesome as I applied them to my project. I realized that if we were to use passive principles on all types of buildings (essential in view of the existing energy shortage), then we would have to learn to apply the principles in a way that fit the function of the particular building. Take the case of the junior high addition I am designing. I soon discovered that one thing a school full of active kids and artificial lights did not need was excess heat. How to modify the part of the definition that calls for the building as "solar collector" called for some reflection. Another part of the definition that troubled me was "when the total energy flow is wholly by
natural means." This almost limits the use of passive design to small structures the function of which allows for open planning. It would be difficult to naturally distribute warm and cool air throughout a 22,000 SF classroom building with individual closed-off classrooms, and still maintain a compact plan with a minimal perimeter that the building as "heat-trap" requires.
I have come to believe that the basic principles that are associated with a passive solar heated design can be used and modified to suit almost any building type. However, successful functioning of the building must come first, and the passive principles that are appropriate should be applied to work to this end. In this way I believe we can make passive solar design a reality in all architecture.
I believe we should be more flexible in our goals at the stage in the art of solar design; if one cannot achieve 50 percent of all heating needs through solar, one should still go for the 25 to 30 percent goal. With more experience, the quality and efficiency of design will improve, and hopefully, the cost decrease.
NATURAL ENERGY SYSTEMS
A major overheating problem will result if there are too many south-facing windows, as well as a glare problem due
to too much direct sunlight in classroom areas. What is needed is a means to pre-heat the ventilating make-up air
(5 CFM/student) which, during the winter, uses up a good chunk of the energy budget. Using as much natural lighting in the building as possible, without providing excess glass area for the associated heat loss and heat gain, was another necessity. A third essential seemed to be to provide a well-insulated protective outer shell for the building that would
allow little heat loss and gain. A fourth intention is to provide south glass collector area for pre-heating make-up air, and extra mass at the foot of this glass to store heat for nighttime use.
Orientation is a major consideration when designing a passive solar building. The school addition is oriented south, with the shell providing protection from cold winter wind and western sun.
The building has 1,040 SF of double-glazed "collector" window on the south perimeter. The windows will be insulated at night by fiberglass panels with 1" rigid polystyrene sandwiched between the outer and inner layers. These insulating covers will be designed and operated mechanically like self-closing garage doors. The doors will also provide light control for the auditorium during audio-visual programs.
An overhang of 4*s feet extends out from the auditorium/cafeteria roof and out from the lobby roof. This provides shading from the summer sun. Deciduous trees in the plaza area also provide shading during the warm months.
In this design, pre-heating of the outside replacement air is done by running the air through a rock storage bin which is heated by air collected in ducts at the top of the auditorium/cafeteria windows and the oculus, the highest point of the building which forms a thermal chimney (see mechanical system diagrams). The air intake for the ventilating system is located on a protected sunlit area of the roof where the air will be warmed naturally.
The building will not have conventional mechanical air conditioning. During the hot summer months the interior will be flushed with cool air at night and due to the time lag associated with massive materials, the building will hold the cold temperatures until after noon (see mechanical system diagrams). A cold rock storage bin under the kitchen storage area will cool the air for ventilating during the latter part of the day. The make-up air duct will be 4 feet under the earth, and the air will be drawn through a 12-foot berm before it reaches the cold rock storage.
The floor slab is thickened next to the windows to 8" to increase the thermal mass to allow heat storage for nighttime use and to control the overheating effect. The excess heat will be ducted to storage.
Providing nearly all the lighting by natural means meant using skylighting since the ratio of floor to window area can be lowered to 1:20 with this arrangement. Each dome skylight will be triple-glazed and will be provided with a Levolor-type blind that can be manually controlled. Clerestory windows at the front of each classroom area and kitchen seemed justified because they are protected from wind and have the additional benefit of reflected light from the white gravel built-up roofing over the auditorium/cafeteria areas. The students have ample opportunity to experience outdoor views on their passage through the auditorium/cafeteria area when going from building to building. Task lighting will be used over work areas where necessary.
The building walls (bearing) are 8 x 8 x 16 concrete block filled with grout to increase thermal mass. They are insulated on the outside with 2" of rigid polystyrene. On the outside of the insulation, a 4" layer of buff-colored split-face block forms the exterior face of the wall. (U-value is 0.046.) The roof is metal decking, 4" of lightweight insulating fill, and 2" of rigid polystyrene insulation beneath a built-up roof of white gravel. (U-value is 0.04.)
Heat loss for the building is 5 BTUH/SF during the day (8 hours), excluding ventilating requirements. At night (16 hours) the loss is 11 BTUH/SF. Both of these figures are well below the 25 BTUH/SF set as a maximum in the school district building program.
Earth berming is used on the north, west and east walls to an average height of 5 feet. Double door vestibules are used throughout, with the exception of a delivery door in the tech voc area that will remain locked most of the time.
The building plan is arranged so that storage areas and areas requiring little light and heat can be located on the north. The south window areas are circulation walk-talk spaces where direct sunlight can be tolerated.
The building roofs are slightly pitched to deflect winter winds from the north and northwest, and coniferous trees are planted where possible to provide wind protection. The slanted roofs also encourage internal air flow, helping collect heated air from the auditorium oculus and the clerestory window areas of the instructional spaces, which can be returned to the rock storage area.
This information is taken from an investigation done by Chen and Associates, Inc., Consulting.Soil Engineers, in August 1977. The report consisted of several pages of detailed information, which I will not include here. The conclusions are as follows:
The proposed school addition should be founded with straight-shaft piers drilled into bedrock designed for a maximum end pressure of 30,000 psf, a skin friction of 3,000 psf and a minimum dead load pressure of 10,000 psf. A spread footing foundation alternative is also presented with design details and precautions given as discussed.
The junior high school building program I used is provided by the R-l School District of Jefferson County, and
is available from them. The following diagrams contain most of the program information.
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SECTIONS 8. MECHANICAL
AIA Journal, "Evaluation: Living experiment in Energy Conservation Systems," December 1977, Vol. 66, No. 13, p. 32-37. Anderson, Bruce. Solar Energy Fundamentals in Building Design. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1977. 374 pp.
Architectural Record, "Schools," June 1976, p. 117-132.
Crowther, Richard L. Sun Earth. A. B. Hirschfeld Press, Inc., 1977. 232 pp.
Hastings, S. Robert and Grenshaw, Richard W. Window Design Strategies to Conserve Energy. National Bureau of Standards. Washington, DC, 1977. 171 pp.
Joint Venture. Here Comes the Sun. Boulder, Colorado, 1975. 97 pp.
Morriseau, James J. The New Schools. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1972. 128 pp.
Olgyay, Victor. Design With Climate. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1963. 190 pp.
Open Space Schools. Published by the American Association of School Administrators, Washington, DC, 1975. Ill pp.
Passive Solar Heating and Cooling. Conference and Workshop Proceedings, May 18-19, 1976, Albuquerque, NM. Washington: Energy Research and Development Administration, 1976. 355 pp.
Pictorial, "Aspen Airport," published by the National Concrete Masonry Association, McLean, VA. 12 pp.
Progressive Architecture, "Making Place," December 1977, p. 34-39.
Solar Architecture; Proceedings of the Aspen Energy Forum, May 1977. An Arbor Science Publishers, Inc., 1977. 333 pp. Stein, Richard A. Architecture and Energy. Garden City: Anchor Press, 1977. 322 pp.
Watson, Donald. Designing and Building a Solar House. Charlotte, VT: Garden Way Publishing, 1977. 281 pp.