At Stanford University in California, the Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment & Engineering Building designed by Boora Architects has been open just a few months. This new building, the first of three that Boora have designed for the campus, sets a new standard in sustainability for Stanford.
Four atria around the L-shaped building act as oversize light wells, pulling daylight all the way down to the basement labs. These atria also acts as the lungs of the building, regulating the flow of fresh air through ground floor windows by opening and closing vents on the roof.
Light shelves along the external walls bounce light up and into adjacent classroom and offices, minimizing the need for incandescent sources. Extensive use of glass on all levels provides a sense of lightness and transparency right thoughout the building.
From a photographic perspective, documenting sustainable buildings provides a few new challenges. One of the major considerations in these designs is maximizing the use of natural light. Relying more on this natural light gives the images a different quality to what one normally expects from architectural photography. In many areas, the fact that several of the overhead lights were not switched on was actually a positive representation, strange though it felt to leave them this way for the shot.
The way the users of the building interacted with the natural lighting also became a prominent part of the pictorial documentation. These images required fairly quick response times, not only for the movement of the people but also for the movement of the light source itself. For the few days we were on site, it became a matter of just walking through the building and making the most of whatever activity happened to be going on at the time.