Thursday, January 31, 2013

Going Platinum in Chattanooga

In the small town of Chattanooga, Tennessee a little hostel named The Crash Pad is doing a lot more than providing a place to lay your head down. It’s recently become the World’s first LEED Platinum certified hostel. From design to structure to operations, The Crash Pad is not only a gem among the Appalachian Mountains, it's also an educational experience for those who stay.

The building was constructed using reclaimed wood and bricks from existing structures on-site and complemented by a precast insulated concrete wall system -- they reused the maximum amount of materials, and then supplemented with source-reduction method to cut back on construction waste.  The hostel is topped off with a green vegetative roof and lined on the exterior walls with plants, which assist in reducing stormwater runoff and insulating the building.  A front awning adorned with solar panels welcomes visitors warmly and provides an alternative source of energy, too.

Indoors, guests can interact more directly with the sustainable features.  Energy-efficient LED lights, water efficient low-flow plumbing fixtures, and a greywater filtration system combine to maximize energy efficiency and reduce potable water use.  Much of the furniture was even hand-crafted by local artisans, contributing to the local economy while reducing the environmental impact of long-distance material transport.  Plaques throughout the hostel help educate visitors, explaining the structure's green features and why they're so important.

The owners know that sustainability shouldn't end when construction is complete -- as co-owner Dan Rose put it, "Being a green business doesn't mean just building a green building.  It comes down to our operations."  The Crash Pad is even a member of the 1% for the Planet Program, an organization which encourages businesses to give 1% of their profits to environmental organizations around the world.  Truly an uncommon hostel!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Revit Tip: Scalable Model Family

Sometimes in Revit you have a complex object, perhaps a piece of imported furniture or a statue, that you want to be able to scale up and down without a lot of extra parameters and locking.

Example of Scalable Columns in Revit

You can create a scalable model family in Revit by leveraging the “Planting” family category’s unique properties. If a model family with the category “Planting” is nested into another model family of the “Planting” category, the geometry within the family will scale in all directions according to the value of the “Height” parameter. If you take the concept one level further and nest the second “Planting” family into a model family of another category, and associate the “Height” parameter with some parameter in the new family, the geometry will retain its scalability within the project. Now you have a scalable model in whatever category you need.

EDIT: The image below illustrates the purpose of the invisible line referenced in CJV's comment below.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Formica: Making Post-Consumer Waste Look Good

Founded in 1913, Formica is one of the most globally recognized names in surfacing products. The business started out much differently, however, as a company known in electrical motor parts creating strong, lightweight electrical insulators. They produced their first sheet laminate on July 4th, 1914.

Through the decades, multiple types of laminates were used in automotive timing gears, wall sheeting, and in military equipment, such as airplane propellers and bomb tubes in WWII. In the 1950's, Formica began to be known for what it represents today, namely decorative laminates. The design and color trends led by Formica included the bright pops of color in the 60's and the avocados and golds of the 70's. 

Over the years, Formica has introduced many types of solid surface materials, textures, finishes and adhesives among their products. Today, design is heading in a different direction, placing high importance on earth-friendly products in addition to good design and quality merchandise. Formica Corporation has met this demand by introducing the e Series Solid Surfaces. 

What’s so special about the e Series? It’s the first solid surface to use post-consumer (as well as pre-consumer) recycled content! Furthermore, the company didn’t choose just any recycled content; they chose Styrofoam cups and packaging -- products that are costly and difficult to recycle and don’t break down in landfills. 

With about 5% of post-consumer recycled content, over 1000 Styrofoam cups are given new life in every 12’x2’-4” sheet of material. 10% of pre-consumer waste comes from reclaimed solid surfacing. Priced competitively and designed in 6 neutral colors, the product is also GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified and is worth more LEED credits since it contains post-consumer recycled content. 

Formica’s recycling innovation in the e Series shows they are keeping up with the [sustainability] trends. Styrofoam is incredibly hard to recycle, yet Formica volunteered to take on the challenge. Hopefully this inspires many other businesses to take a deeper look at items deemed as ‘waste’ that can once again become useful.

For more information, visit

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sandusky Ohio Veteran’s Home Cemetery Improvements

 Cemetery Grant Award Ceremony

Domokur Architects is excited to be taking part in the Ohio Veteran's Home Cemetery  Renovation Project in Sandusky, Ohio. Established in 1888, over 4,000 Veterans have been buried here with the oldest dating back to the Civil War era. Among the thousands, two recipients of a Congressional Medal of Honor reside here: William Louis Carr, who received the Medal for the China Relief Expedition and James Jardine for his actions at Vicksburg, Mississippi during the Civil War. The cemetery currently accommodates Veterans who in WWI, The Spanish War, The Korean War, WWII, and Vietnam. It is still an active burial ground for Ohio Veteran's Home Residents and their spouses. 

Last month, Sandusky's Ohio Veteran’s Home received a Federal Grant Check for $798,987, which will provide for all planned restorations at the cemetery. When the project is completed, the Cemetery will follow all current National Cemetery Standards as well as demonstrate the utmost respect and provide a memorial to those who have courageously served our country. Since 1980, the grant program has presented over $483 million to cemeteries in 41 states and territories including tribal trust lands, Guam and Saipan. Their dollars aid in the establishment, improvements, maintenance and operation fees of these cemeteries. Last year alone the program helped provide for nearly 29,000 burials.

One of the 8 trees removed from the grounds
Domokur Architects facilitated, with the help of The Ohio Veteran's Home employees and volunteers, verifying previous records and locations of grave sites in order to ensure accuracy for preparation of the Raise, Realign, Reset and Clean process of the 4,000+ headstones. Domokur Architects has coordinated the tree removal and will be overlooking the leveling of the grounds and re-sodding of the entire project area, as well as planning for future expansion when the project kicks off in the Spring of 2013. Our architects have been incredibly sensitive to the historic value of the stones and plan on replacing only those that are beyond repair or recognition. In the photos below, you can see how completely some of the tree roots had surrounded several stones. 

During the first two weeks of December, all questionable headstones were verified for needing replacement and eight trees were removed due to headstone encroachment. Improvements, cleaning and replacement (if necessary) of the stones and grounds is scheduled to begin in the Spring of 2013. Project completion is estimated to be 90 days after commencement.

Check back with us in the spring to see more progress updates!

For more information about the Sandusky Ohio Veteran's Home's improvements, please visit: 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

J.M. Smucker Central is certified LEED Silver!

Domokur Architects is pleased to announce that one of our most outstanding projects, the J.M. Smucker Company Central Building, has become LEED Silver certified! 

The newly constructed building is a 130,000 SF facility that serves as the primary entry point for all campus visitors.  It physically links two of the existing office buildings to create a contiguous office environment for the business activities of various J.M. Smucker product brands.  Located on the campus with the original house of Jerome Monroe Smucker in rural Orrville, OH, the site serves as a physical reminder of the growth and development that has occurred for the company over the last 114 years.

Optimized for energy performance, the building features high efficiency glazing and mechanical systems, an improved thermal envelope, and HVAC equipment that emits low levels of environmentally damaging compounds.  The roofing system is a cool white roof with areas of vegetative green roof, reducing heat island effect.  Indoors, the energy-efficient measures continue with low-flow plumbing fixtures, lighting occupancy sensors, and lighting controllability by 100% of occupants.  

Materials were selected to emit low VOC levels, including adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings, and carpet systems.  Over 20% of total building materials were sourced within 500 miles of the project site, and 15% of total building materials were manufactured with recycled content.  Furthermore, during construction an incredible 82% of construction waste was diverted from the landfill.

The building’s sustainable features extend beyond its walls to the site itself.  Located in a community context, the building features significant bike storage and shower facilities to encourage alternative transportation and increased connectivity to surrounding services and residences.  A stunning 90% of surface hardscapes are paved with highly reflective materials or are an open grid system, which also offsets the heat island effect.  The landscaping system directly addresses water usage: there is no permanent irrigation system installed, which greatly reduces the amount of water used on-site, and stormwater runoff has been carefully managed so that 80% of suspended solids are removed in the course of captured rainfall leaving the site, resulting in cleaner greywater.

The project received 5 credits for Innovation and Design.  Credits were received for exemplary performance in maximizing open space and reducing water use, featuring a LEED AP (Jessica Riley) on the project, and implementing a public education program about the building’s sustainable features via an energy dashboard mounted in the lobby (sample slide featured at left).  The project team also implemented an innovative chemical-free water treatment technology to avoid using excessive chemicals in the cooling tower system.

We’re so pleased to see our hard work come to fruition, particularly when the results produce lasting environmental, economic, and community benefits for a great company. Congratulations to The J.M. Smucker Company!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"HOG" Water Harvesting

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, over half of the United States today is experiencing rain deficient conditions ranging from abnormally dry to an exceptional drought.  As it is difficult to forecast when conditions will improve, and if they will improve, rainwater collection has become a hot topic of discussion. Though the thought is not new to many rural areas, the idea of bringing these systems into an urban environment is. While working in inner-city Sydney, Australian architect Sally Dominguez decided to do something about that.

While exploring options, Dominguez realized that most rainwater management systems were too large and cumbersome for dense metropolitan life. Since extra space in cities is very limited, she began considering all the valuable space available under floors, within walls, and along alleyways and buildings. Making use of these spaces necessitated a narrower tank design.

While looking into design materials, a major concern was that the water weight would bulge the walls of the tank. Sally remedied this by placing a hole in the middle of the container to act as a brace from the inside out. Choosing “rotomolding” (or rotational molding) allowed a hollow plastic container to be produced in the size and shape desired. With Legos™ as inspiration, the tank was built to stand on any of its sides without compromising water flow.

In Australia in 2005, Dominguez’s dream finally became a reality by creating the first Rainwater HOG. The clever name warrants explanation: rainwater was then considered ‘gray’ water.  H2O Grey, or H2OG, became HOG. Today, the United States is among the largest purchasers of the HOG.

Weighing approximately 40lbs (when empty, 440lbs when full), the HOG can hold up to 51 gallons per tank.  Its sleek design sizes in at 20”x9.5”x71” and is available in recycled and non-recycled plastic. (Since drinkable water and water for toilet flushing must be kept in food-grade containers, the virgin plastic tank is available.) The recycled plastic tanks can be used for irrigation.  Olive Green is the standard color of choice, but custom colors are available upon request for large orders.

The Rainwater HOG is available for just under $300 at and other retailers. Visit for additional information.