When BNIM Architects began work on a new collaborative office hub in downtown San Diego, they had a number of considerations to inform the design.

The building, a six-story structure called Block D, needed to fit the collective ethos embodied by Makers Quarter, a five-block development in downtown San Diego which aims to provide a creative environment for entrepreneurs and artists. BNIM also wanted the building to receive a LEED Platinum rating and achieve net-zero energy performance. Health and wellness of the building’s occupants were additional considerations.

The building, which has retail and hospitality outlets at street level with offices above, uses a variety of techniques to achieve the energy goals including two active shading systems that facilitate natural daylighting while providing flexibility for building tenants to control their own workspaces.

One of these systems is an exterior venetian blind system from Draper. The blinds are installed on the south and west elevations and incorporate perforated flexible 80 mm (3-1/8”) slats.

For maximum reduction of solar heat gain, the blinds are linked to an automated sun tracking system so that they are automatically deployed, tilted to prevent direct sun penetration while allowing as much natural daylight into the building as possible.

To make the most of natural light, the systems are retracted when there is no sun on the facade. To maximize occupants’ personal comfort the system allows manual control so the tenants can override the automated system for periods of time during the day.

So, has it worked? Can sustainable construction be cost-effective?

Analysis of the building’s performance has demonstrated that the Draper exterior venetian blind system allows the building to outperform the baseline energy goal by 66%. In addition, estimated energy generation by a photovoltaic panel (PV) system provides energy cost savings of more than 48%.

The project has received numerous awards, including:

  • Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design Green Good Design Award
  • San Diego Green Building Council Merit Award, LEED BD+C Category
  • AIA San Diego Citation, Design Excellence Awards
  • AIA Kansas City Merit, Architecture Large, Design Excellence Awards
  • AIA Kansas Honor, Excellence in Design, Design Awards
  • AIA Iowa Merit, Excellence in Design
  • AIA Central States Region Citation, Design Awards

For more information on the project, click here.

To learn more about Draper Venetian Blinds by Warema, click here.

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