The Blacksburg Entrepreneur Center sits on a site that is currently an urban blunder for the town of Blacksburg. It is nearly half a city block, backing up to Virginia Tech’s campus and connecting to the heart of Main Street, that is an underused storefront and parking lot alleyway hybrid. The adjacent (to the southeast) lot is deeply underutilized too, making both sites likely to be maximized in the same way Kent Square maximized it’s city block a minute away.
With the expectation of a large-scale multi use development nextdoor, this structure had the challenge of maintaining the scale and feel of the historic district while attempting to create a boon for it by maximizing its quirky site and program.
# of studios/offices/workspaces ≥ # of residential apartments.
Direct heat gain is used primarily in the atrium through its westward orientation. Due to the programmatic layout of the atrium relative to the apartments, the atrium design was a compromise that is not optimal for direct solar gain. The thermal comfort zone of the atrium is wider than it would be for normal spaces. We accept a wider range of temperatures as a result of its function as a space. In an effort to have the necessary amount of thermal mass, the atrium has a double concrete plates around insulation. Adjustable venetian blinds clad the curtain walls for flexible, controllable heat gain throughout all periods .
The building has a windward wind scoop, leeward exhaust, and primary stack that can function as either (thanks to its directional flap), each with fans to increase effectiveness (raises the neutral axis), to encourage cross ventilation, night flush cooling, and stack effect. The exhaust stacks cool the building by pulling warm air up and out at night creating negative pressure that pulls cool night air in through the windward scoop and other apertures such as the west facing casement windows. The wind scoops and fans pulls outside air into the building. With these three elements, along with the large casement windows on the west and east facades, the building is capable of performing multiple thermal comfort techniques throughout the day and night to achieve thermal comfort.
Geoexchange from the cooled air of the covered stroubles creek is another technique used to mechanically pull the cool air throughout the lower floors of the building, in a similar way to the Ostera Post building. This method was chosen due to the instability of the soil, which makes earth cooling more challenging.
Copyright ©Bryan Bay 2019