Monthly Archives: August 2011

Showcase: The Lee

We’re proud to have amassed a body of sustainable work, and are particularly pleased with the practical outcomes of The Lee, right here in New York. Designed by Kiss + Cathcart Architects, for Common Ground Community, The Lee is New York City’s first LEED Silver supportive housing. The project was a long time coming. Back in 2005, The Lee was a winner of the NYC Department of Environmental Protection’s 2005 Green Building Design Competition. In 2007, ground was broken. And now, according to Common Ground Community, The Lee will house 262 residents, including adults with special needs and low-income working adults; with 55 units reserved for young adults aging out of foster care and at risk of homelessness.

The residence incorporates environmentally sustainable and energy-efficient design, construction, operation, and maintenance practices. Key green design features include a high performance condensing boiler; drought-resistant landscaping; individual temperature control; water-saving fixtures; high efficiency lighting; and a green roof.

From our perspective, The Lee offered multiple lighting challenges- not only were we to use every watt for the lighting systems (lamp and ballasts) judiciously, we had to respect a very stringent budget and for first cost, and significant requirements to have minimum maintenance costs as they relate to operational and energy consumption.

We worked very closely with the architects to come up with solutions that could be incorporated into the architectural details- such that we were not encumbering the project with expensive fixtures or lamps- but using inexpensive, long-lasting fluorescent lamps in novel and innovative patterns and details.

The user feedback for the lighting has been exceptional and very complimentary. High user satisfaction was achieved while meeting stringent energy and cost requirements because of a great thought partnership and collaboration with the architects.

The Potential of Solar Energy For the Community

(Extract from R. Sitaraman’s Paper at the ISLE Conference in Chennai and few months back)

The Indian government has projected that by year 2020, 2000MW power can be generated from solar panels and highly reflective mirrors, thus reducing the Nation’s carbon footprint. This projection will result in a massive requirement of poly-crystalline solar panels and aluminum mirrors. Major companies such as Fortune 500 Reliance Global and ONGC are entering the market in a major way. Their competitive potential results in lower cost per square foot of panel. The government needs to embark on a massive publicity program followed by suitable legislation’s in order to generate awareness of solar power in every household.

To sanction a building plan in Chennai, India, provision of an underground tank to store rainwater (which otherwise enters the sewer system) must be shown. The water storage capacity is dependent on the size of the plot and number of flats built. Similarly, if 30% of roof area on each building is fitted with solar panels, the power requirement of the common areas and landscape lighting can easily be met. Additional technologies can augment this power supply, making it even more efficient. For example, by using solar mirrors, the hot water requirement for the buildings during the day can be met without drawing power supplied by state agencies. In terms of lighting, if more LED light sources are used, they can operate directly from the solar panel without using an AC/DC converter. This can significantly improve the operational efficiency.

Maintenance of solar panels (such as clearing bird droppings, tightening electrical connections, and maintaining the battery) has additional potential. Those of high school education could be trained as technicians. Each tech alone could take care of six to seven buildings. Not only would clean power be generated, but so would tremendous employment potential. Imagine a city with every roof top having solar panels! How much fossil fuel could be saved?

Bon Voyage Hoon!

Bon Voyage Hoon!

AWA wished farewell to our intern last Thursday night over dinner and drinks at a K-town favorite. Needless to say, we were very sad that his internship was closing. The sentiment was reciprocated as he expressed thanks for all he learned, and for working daily in the good-humored atmosphere of AWA.

Hoon’s creative expression manifested not only in our office, but also in a poem about time that he wrote for one of AWA’s Thursday Inspiration Lunches. Those lunches happen weekly and provide an opportunity for team members to share a poem or other inspiring tidbit to propel us through our tasks with enthusiasm and inspiration. Hoon’s wise words on the subject of “time” were written on the subway via i-phone, on his way into work:


The time is equal to everyone.
It never lies, it never tells us what to do.
Every people in the universe has
Exactly the same amount of time. Every people uses time in their own way and for their own purpose. Time doesn’t wait for the lazy people, It follows to the diligent ones. Time can able everything. Everything is matter of time. Time is challenge. It is designed by yourself. But some are chased by the time and some rules the time. Be the best designer for your time!

Hoon Cho met AWA through our firm’s Korean student internship program. Twice yearly for duration of six months, we work closely with a new up and coming young designer, engaging him or her in various aspects of AWA’s inner workings and creative energy. By the end, the student not only has experience working with an established firm, but can also count his/her time spent with us towards school credits for graduation. (Hoon’s specific talents also developed into some very creative ping-pong table moves during his time with us.)