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Nanogram Competition Entry: Flatlot 2013

March 2, 2013 Leave a comment

Nanogram Competition Entry: Flatlot 2013

Nanogram Competition Entry: Flatlot 2013

Nanogram Competition Entry: Flatlot 2013

Team: L. Michael Lu, Jeff Yarnall, Orlando Muro

Welcome to Park|Park, an undulating landscape of mounds forged from construction debris and re-purposed materials.  Day and night, weekdays and weekends, Park|Park is host to a series of events from the quotidian to the spectacle. The parking lot is not displaced but enhanced, offering the amenity infrastructure and outdoor open-space for the community to value.  Sustainability is at the core of Park|Park, from the wood pallet structures to their synthetic grass skins discarded from sports arenas. During the day visitors run, climb, and lay upon the mounds shaded by inset box trees. At night, lights from the tire formed portals self-illuminate the transient parkscape. The parking lot maintains its function for the temporary storage of vehicles, but pockets of park are inserted upon its bays. Dimensionally, each mound is inextricably driven by the size of a parking space at 9’-0” x 18’-0“. The gridded park of alternating 18’-0” and 36’-0” mounds re-inserts the human element to a cold and mundane flat-lot. Wedged between machines, the public park themselves between parked cars. Park|Park stands as Flint’s face to the world, a reminder of a past born from the automobile industry and of a future rooted in sustainability and its human drivers.

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Join us March 20th, 2013

February 5, 2013 Leave a comment

Join us March 20th, 2013

Desert Willow Conference Center, 4340 East Cotton Center Blvd., Phoenix, AZ 85040

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Paint the stairways green? Hmmmm.

December 20, 2012 Leave a comment

As you will have read from my blog entries concerning my thesis, the stairways of Lima installed under the Castaneda administration were an iconic yellow, color of his political party. I proposed in the thesis that the incumbent mayorship whose political party color was green would benefit from the stiching or weaving together of stairways through the use of architectural programs at times painted green. A compliment rather than replacement. The result is sadly below.


For the full article:


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The Kingspan Generation: L. Michael Lu

December 15, 2012 4 comments

Architecture for the Public Good

Architecture has the inherent ability to move people. For my Master of Architecture + Master of Urban Design theses, I became enthralled with the notion that design for the most vulnerable sectors of society is a cause worth basing a career upon. For this study, the project was located at the juncture between two poverty stricken districts of Metropolitan Lima: San Juan de Miraflores and Villa Maria El Triunfo. These districts had been physically divided for decades through the installation of a commuter rail system designed to integrate peripheral Lima to the city core. The result was miles of impassable walls.


In the 1990s, then Mayor Luis Castaneda, invested a great deal of financial and political capitol in the hillsides of Lima’s periphery. Thousands of the city’s most marginalized are resigned to live on treacherous slopes in houses built from found objects. Switchbacks and paths made by the people snaked down through one shanty community to the next to reach the city streets below. His solution was simple: create stairways. In one effective and uncomplicated move his administration integrated the city above to the city below.


For the thesis, I proposed what I considered a next logical step: build upon existing infrastructure to integrate rather than separate communities. As the stairways ran vertically down the slopes, I would design horizontally connecting stairway to stairway bringing much needed amenities typically found in the city below, up to the level of the people.

Generation Kingspan Competition: Philanthropic Design

The design of the Kingspan manufacturing facility and corporate headquarters was intended to be mixed-use AND mixed-income. Yes, I considered it plausible for a large corporation like Kingspan to plan along with its fixed program of uses, a section of the site dedicated to mixed income housing in downtown Phoenix.  Sustainability for me extended beyond the simply physical. True, design the built form to mitigate impacts to environment and yes lower energy use and footprint. But, in addition, dedicate a portion of the budget for those with lesser means.

As a participant in now many design competitions I thought to myself, do I really need the money? Having lived and worked in Peru for years as an archaeologist, and witnessing first-hand the poverty that exists in developing nations, would the prize money impact my life for the better? I felt strongly that money for nothing would more appropriately serve those who more desperately need it.

I won the social vote using a quite simple and selfless method: I offered the prize money in exchange for votes to a hospital in a rural sector of Peru with limited means. A group of doctors were planning to buy medical equipment for the Hospital Regional Guillermo Diaz de la Vega located in Abancay which has the highest incidence of poverty in the country. I approached the doctors explaining my design and the process of winning and they agreed that my choice to donate the prize to their cause was worth their own efforts. Medical school students, teachers, friends and family rallied together to vote for someone they never knew personally, only knowing that he was a son of Peru willing to give back to a country that formed his career. They voted on an idea and on a philosophy rather than a design based in Phoenix, Arizona. The result was uncanny. Thousands of votes poured in from all over the world now interested in a simple design that made waves across the globe. Everyone was now competing together for the same cause, provide the first eye care facility this region of Peru had ever known. My contribution began with images on paper forged from years of education in design and sustainability. The result was giving the marginalized an opportunity to see.



Now, in these final days of the year I encourage you, the reader, to remember those less fortunate. That even in competition never compromise your ideals. Yes, we could all use the money to buy a laptop, pay-off student loans, or purchase any number of perishables, but what if we, an emerging generation of professionals were to truly design for the public good and live by it? We can indeed affect change in the world and extend our hand to those in need through design. I know. I lived it.

Thank you Peru for your unending support and hope.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Kingspan Generation Competition

November 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Kingspan ‘PROFILE Mixed-Use’

When viewed from the air, Downtown Phoenix is patchwork of old and new, solid and void. Land bankers patiently await an upturned real estate economy to densify the city core and turn a profit. However, the urban ring of residential homes appear scattered amongst the empty lots which riddle this desert city. Kingspan selected Phoenix as the location of its most ambitious facility to date. Challenged with a high heat index, competing with the urban heat island, and the scarcity of water; Kingspan intends to showcase the resilience of its product lines by creating a mixed-use live-work complex incorporating mid-density residential, office, retail and manufacturing in the heart of the city.

Kingspan PROFILE pursues LEED Platinum designation and the company intends to become a leader and environmental steward in the deserts of the southwest. Several site related strategies listed in LEED NC are integrated in the plan and design of ‘PROFILE’ including Community Connectivity, Development Density, Diversity of Use, Pervious Surface Materials, Native Plants, High SRI paneling and roof systems, Location near Mass Transit and the Minimization of Water Usage.

The PROFILE mixed-use community and manufacturing facility represents a holistic and integrative design intent on lowering environmental impacts, maintaining a sustainable and regenerative built environment, and reducing the urban heat island which continues to plague Phoenix. On the level of site, the project integrates itself with the community through a long solar canopy which culminates in a covered parking area over its neighbor to the north, a grade school for inner city children. Moving south, a mixed income residential complex boasting Kingspan Designwall 2000 panels rests above retail spaces along the light rail corridor. The second story of the parking garage becomes the community space for the apartment residents shielded from the western sun as they arrive from work.  Crossing the street one reaches the main Kingspan office tower and Center for Research and Innovation. Deeply recessed and pop-out windows remain shaded to the east, west, and south to lower cooling loads. In winter months, these occupant operated windows permit flexibility of indoor air quality and ambient air.  Kingspan insulated panels on fly-ash CMU block create a sound office and manufacturing environment. The thin profile of the office tower reduces lighting loads as natural daylight washes the interior’s open plan.

The grounds of PROFILE integrate LEED Sustainable Sites credits through the incorporation of native vegetation to arid climates, the use of decomposed granite in lieu of hardscape, storm water runoff collection in on-site cisterns, and vegetated walls on an east-west axis between buildings to exploit the effects of evaporative cooling. Water Efficiency is achieved through the low-flow sanitary fixtures, waterless urinals, xeriscaping, drip irrigation, reclamation of grey water from wet zones, and the collection of condensate from air handling units. LEED Energy and Atmosphere is addressed through appropriate space sizes, high R-value insulated panels manufactured on-site, the implementation of passive design through a self shading envelope, high performance mechanical systems, and LED lighting. Onsite energy production includes the ‘DNA Canopy’ suspended and undulating over each sector of the project. In addition to the collection of solar energy, the system provides slowly changing shaded spaces creating shadows which dance upon the surfaces below.

PROFILE aims to exceed current LEED benchmarks and is instead designed to meet the more rigorous 2030 Challenge standards. Through the strict specification of recycled content, rapidly renewable and regional materials, salvaged materials, on-site composting and integration of a large recycling facility for the wider community, the Materials and Resources category is realized.  Achievements in Indoor Environmental Quality is evident through ample availability of indoor daylighting, operable windows, occupant temperature control, ventilation control, and lighting control.

PROFILE optimizes the flow of people and products. As employees arrive from the Light Rail, by bike, by foot, or by SmartCar they land at a destination with community amenity in mind. Onsite food and beverage lessens the need to leave campus grounds, bike valets ensure the safety of property, and charging stations powered by the solar canopy await plug-in vehicles. Product movement is equally efficient. From north to south, from concept to product, innovations originate in the Office Tower and R+D Space, manufactured and packaged in the Plant Complex, and quickly shipped throughout the US by rail just a block away.

Kingspan remains a leader in the production of insulated panel systems and hopes to expand its operations and product lines. The solar ‘DNA canopy’ galvanizes this desire for innovation in technological building construction. The design of a mixed-income community donated by the corporation speaks to its humanitarian mission and altruism. Its donation of a solar canopy over its neighbor Augstus Shaw Elementary  reflects a commitment to community. PROFILE embodies the Kingspan legacy and the generation of designers it continues to inspire.

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Competition Lima: Nodulo006 | Envelope

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

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Competition Lima: Nodulo006 | Programming

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

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Nanogram Studio Experiments: Laser Cutting | Engraving

September 25, 2012 Leave a comment

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Nanogram Studio: Architectural Visualizations

August 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Nanogram Architectural Visualizations


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SOM Fellowship 2012

August 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Thank you to SOM for the opportunity to participate. Thank you to my professors for the unending collaboration. I wish the best to the winning entries.

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