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Banding for KNOWLEDGE

University of Texas at San Antonio


  • Daniel Rodriguez Suarez and Isaias Garcia Coronado

Project Status

Concept Proposal
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Project Description


San Antonio will add one million people to it’s population by 2040, making the Sunbelt city one of the fastest growing in the United States. Therefore, it’s of vital importance that the residents of San Antonio become conscious about readapting existing buildings and turning them into more environmentally sustainable designs. The site offers an excellent opportunity to develop adaptive reuse strategies while giving back to the community by teaching them about sustainability, green gardens, recycling, and other strategies that will contribute to the 2030 Challenge for San Antonio. This project will advance community knowledge through the introduction of a Neighborhood Branch Library and Park, hence the name “Banding for Knowledge.”

The building is located on the west side of the site. A ten foot fall across the site buffers the building from street noise. We also propose the addition of native trees and shrubs to further protect the parking and outdoor program areas from noise.

This project reimagines a prototypical Walmart Neighborhood Market as a Neighborhood Branch Library, thereby lessening the financial and ecological costs of new construction. The design shrinks the thermal envelope of the existing building from 42,000 sf to 30,849 sf, while repurposing the structure, foundation, storm sewer, and parking infrastructure.

M1. Design / Innovation

The design punctures the building envelope, allowing the previously isolated big box to more fully engage the site. We inscribed the box with rhythmic landscape elements to make the building more inviting while increasing the amount of green space in the parking lot.

Since abandoned big boxes are useless to the community, they decrease the visual and spatial quality of their surroundings. Our desire is to give the power of knowledge through a Neighborhood Branch Library and Park to the community, hence the name “Banding for Knowledge.”

M2. Regional / Community Design

While this site resides in an automobile-dependent neighborhood, the project provides easy access to bike racks, specially designated bus stops, and improved outdoor social spaces. The project affords an opportunity to build a stronger community, where taking care of the environment becomes a part of daily life.

The renovation preserves the building’s original open plan and structural grid, allowing the interior space to be easily reconfigured over time into multiple configurations.

The “banding” is generated by the need to make the box less massive and dominant. It helped us to achieve unity across the whole site. The introduction of landscape again nourishes the building and site with native plants.

M3. Land Use / Site Ecology

By increasing the percentage of green space in the site, the project will positively impact the local community, bringing native plants, and providing a new habitat for local wildlife. The use of indigenous plants and the use of deciduous trees provide a pleasant atmosphere. The canopy of the trees provide shade and shelter to pedestrians walking along the bands while making their way towards the library. The bands also contribute to the collection of run-off rain water into two subgrade cisterns, which will be used for irrigation and other gray-water needs. Since the average rainfall in San Antonio is about 30 inches annually, it is of vital importance to collect and conserve as much water as possible.

M4. Bioclimatic Design

The design responds to local climate by covering the building with shaded overhangs to deflect direct sunlight. It also utilizes natural stack ventilation, allowing hot air to escape while keeping interior temperature within a comfortable range for the occupants. By puncturing the existing building walls, the design allows natural indirect sunlight to penetrate the building. This reduces energy consumption and carbon footprint.

M5. Light / Air

The overhangs on both the east and west elevations help block out direct sunlight from hitting the building and stop direct heat gain from infiltrating the envelope.

Stack ventilation passively cools the interior by letting warm air escape through the skylights while providing natural ventilation year round.

M6. Water Cycle

We propose the introduction of native plants on site to eliminate the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This will reduce peak flows and runoff while improving the water quality of nearby Caracol creek.

The proposed design will increase site permeability from virtually zero to over 50%. Two subgrade cisterns will collect water on site for irrigation purposes while retaining storm water. The roof will collect storm water, storing it in underground cisterns for irrigation purposes. Low flow water fixtures will contribute to water efficiency.

M7. Energy Flows / Energy Future

This design conserves energy and resources, while reducing the existing carbon footprint and improving building performance and comfort. The project integrates sophisticated energy saving systems such as shade control and automated lighting sensors that adjust to occupancy and daylight levels. Solar power is an ideal energy source because PVs perform at high quality levels during the summer when cooling loads are at their highest.

Additionally, a zoned HVAC system allows individuals to control the temperature in each conference room. When the building is not occupied, thermostats automatically adjust to a standard baseline temperature to reduce heating and cooling loads.

M8. Materials / Construction

The design salvages as much existing material as possible in order to reduce the cost of new construction. We specifically reuse the concrete building foundation, some of the buildings walls, and most of the streel structure.

The introduction of low maintenance materials like masonry will reduce life-cycle cost and associated energy use. This use of unfinished surface materials also results in the elimination for cladding surfaces. More than half of the new materials used for construction will be sourced within a 500 mile radius of the site.

M9. Long Life, Loose Fit

This adaptive reuse project creates new social opportunities for the neighborhood: community members can utilize the redesigned site to grow vegetables, go for a walk, or read a book. Such flexible programming maximizes the chances for successful long-term use on the site.

“Banding for Knowledge” provides a prototype for the hundreds of Walmart stores that close their doors each year. Think of the 269 Walmart stores that are going to shut down in 2016; more than half of these stores are in the U.S. Many of these structures can find a new life as libraries or additional community programs.

M10. Collective Wisdom / Feedback Loops

Our team began utilizing building performance analysis early in the design process to develop an environmentally sustainable solution to this adaptive reuse project. Our larger goal was to generate a positive impact on this community by reducing waste and providing the opportunity for new public life.

Our proposal incorporates state of the art technology including automatic light sensors, recycled of gray water for irrigation, green roofs, and the important use of native plant species to nourish the local flora and fauna.

Faculty Sponsors: Ian Caine, Rahman Azari
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