Courtesy Plant Prefab RPA LivingHome 2

Rialto, Calif.–based prefabricated housing manufacturer Plant Prefab has launched its first series of Passive House LivingHomes, dubbing the trio RPA LivingHome 1, 2, and 3. Designed in partnership with the Milford, Pa.–based firm Richard Pedranti Architect, the three- and four-bedroom houses feature high-performance windows and doors, an airtight envelope, balanced ventilation. They also require 80% less energy than conventionally built residential structures, per passive house standards. The houses, all of which are constructed from Plant Prefab's Plant Modules and Plant Panels, range in size from 2,218 square feet to 3,182 square feet and are available starting at $586,257. “Plant Prefab is focused on building homes that are as healthy and sustainable as possible, and we push the boundaries," said Plant Prefab founder and CEO Steve Glenn in an interview with BUILDER, ARCHITECT's sister brand. "We use the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Homes program as well as our own stringent health and sustainability program, Z6, to create some of the world's healthiest homes with the lowest possible impact on the planet." [Builder]

James Corner Field Operations and BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group

Aiming to combat rising sea levels along New York City's 520 miles of coast line, Bjarke Ingels Group and James Corner Field Operations introduced their plans for the River Ring, a 6-acre, circular waterfront park designed to protect Brooklyn communities from future flooding.

James Corner Field Operations and BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group

With BIG's Dryline concept proposal and Field Operations' work on the Cornell Tech Campus, both firms have existing experience with New York's waterfront in wake of 2012's Hurricane Sandy. After announcing their initial plans in 2019, BIG and Field Operations have released a new series of project renderings and website, and plan to begin a public approval process this spring. [River Ring]

After welcoming its first test passengers in December, the high-speed transportation company Virgin Hyperloop has unveiled its vision for an "end-to-end passenger experience," according to a company press release. In its concept video, Hyperloop walks viewers through "a hyperloop journey," starting with the Bjarke Ingels Group–designed portals, pods created by the Seattle-based design and technology company Teague, and a "sonic identity" by the New York– and Los Angeles–based Man Made Music. In addition to an "optimist and fresh" vision for public transportation, Hyperloop also emphasized accessibility, pointing to a recent feasibility study that suggested the cost of traveling via Hyperloop would be more comparable to that of traveling by car rather than by plane. "It’s simple. If it’s not affordable, people won’t use it,” said CEO Jay Walder in the same release. [Hyperloop]

Rodolpho Quirós/Pexels, Courtesy MIT

Researchers from MIT's Concrete Sustainability Hub are exploring the potential of concrete, a material with a high embodied energy, as a CO2 sink. Publishing their findings in Resources, Conservation and Recycling, the researchers investigated carbonation that occurs between water and CO2 in the pores at the exposed concrete surface. The reaction naturally produces the chalky chemical compound calcium carbonate; however, it also indicates that concrete is a potential carbon sink that "could offset 5 percent of the CO2 emissions generated from cement used in U.S. pavements," according to an MIT press release. [MIT]

Designed more than 40 years ago by Renzo Piano, Hon. FAIA, and Richard Rogers, Hon. FAIA, the Centre Pompidou, in Paris, will be closed starting in 2023 for renovations, repair, and asbestos removal. The iconic modern art museum will be closed for three years, reopening to the public in 2026 in time for the museum to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2027. [The New York Times]

Jeremy Weihrauch and Jackson Clements Burrows

2020 had an unusual impact on how we consider building materials and systems, particularly in light of their potential to help fight the COVID-19 and future pandemics. ARCHITECT columnist Blaine Brownell, FAIA, dives into innovative products and materials that he anticipates for 2021, starting with antiviral surfaces and coatings. [ARCHITECT]

Ottan-Studio-designed tiles made from biomaterials like lentils, grass, coffee pulp, and orange peels
Ottan Studio Ottan-Studio-designed tiles made from biomaterials like lentils, grass, coffee pulp, and orange peels

Also from Brownell: a dive into the biowaste revolution. By using natural, raw materials, including wood, leaves, and fruit peels, a growing group of designers is redefining traditional manufacturing processes in a search for ecologically sensitive materials. [ARCHITECT]

Researchers from the University of Louisville Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research and the department of mechanical engineering have received a $350,000 grant from the United Soybean Board to transform soybean hulls into material composites suitable for 3D printing. By extracting xylose (a sugar) from the hulls, the researchers are left with a fiber that has potential applications in the engineering, aerospace, and automotive industries. [3D Printing Progress]

The use of BIM software has increased steadily since 2005, along with an interest in a national BIM standard. So why doesn't it exist yet? ARCHITECT contributor Terri Peters spells out the challenges, technical and otherwise. [ARCHITECT]


The Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute has announced the winners of its 2021 PCI Design Awards, recognizing 38 projects for their creative use of precast concrete. From multifamily schemes and offices to entire campus plans, take a peek at a selection of innovative winners. [ARCHITECT]