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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP Announce Launch of Center for Architecture Science and Ecology

November 14, 2008

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP Announce Launch of Center for Architecture Science and Ecology

Launch for this green collaboration held at Seven World Trade Center

On Friday, November 14, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the renowned architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill officially launched the Center for Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE). The launch event, which began with a cocktail reception at 5 p.m., took place on the 52nd floor of Seven World Trade Center, designed by SOM, the first building in North America designed under the LEED Core and Shell criteria. Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson and Carl Galioto, Partner-in-Charge of SOM New York’s/Technical Group, were joined by city and state officials, business leaders, environmental leaders, academics, and Rensselaer alumni to celebrate the beginning of this major new collaboration. 

Headquartered at SOM’s offices on Wall Street in lower Manhattan, CASE is an innovative collaboration that engages scientists, engineers, and architects from the professional and academic worlds toward a common goal of redefining how we build sustainable cities and environments. The idea is to tap and cultivate the talents of a new generation of architects, thinkers, and planners and turn out sustainable and energy-efficient solutions to today’s environmental challenges in the global building sector, which accounts for more than one third of energy consumption and nearly 40 percent of carbon production. 

Rensselaer’s School of Architecture has framed its advanced degree program in Built Ecologies, focused on the development of new building strategies with an emphasis on energy-efficiency and sustainability, around the CASE. Approximately 15 master’s and doctoral degree candidates share residency between the Rensselaer campus and the CASE offices, working alongside building professionals and post-doctoral researchers as they develop projects and thesis topics tied to specific building challenges. 

“The most meaningful performative design innovations will be achieved by collaboration between the leaders in academic research and transdisciplinary professional practice,” said Carl Galioto.  “Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and SOM have come together to create the environment which will advance building science to the forefront of creative endeavors.” 

“Tackling the global challenges of sustainability and energy security requires a commitment to innovation, to inquiry, and to cross-disciplinary collaboration,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “Through the development of innovative systems and materials that will shift building performance toward sustainable and energy self-sufficient models, researchers at the Center for Architecture Science and Ecology will demonstrate to the world the power that lies at the nexus of art, design, science, and technology. Two leaders with long histories of innovation in their fields – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill – will work together to create ecologically sustainable design through cutting-edge technological experimentation and architectural work.” 

CASE researchers already are developing innovative solutions to environmental challenges, including a new way to harness wind power atop aerodynamically shaped buildings, which could yield 150 percent greater efficiency than existing wind power systems; a new solar technology for windows that tracks the position of the sun and converts its light and diverted heat into storable energy that can be used for heating, cooling, and lighting buildings; and an architectural method to aid in the conservation of potable and non-potable water in hot and arid regions where rainfall is scarce. The launch will include a gallery exhibition of innovative sustainable building systems research at CASE.

“As new construction projects increase in emerging global economies, acceleration in the pace of innovation and implementation of radically new sustainable technologies becomes ever more urgent,” says Anna Dyson, director of CASE and of the Built Ecologies graduate program administered by the School of Architecture at Rensselaer. “The Center for Architecture Science and Ecology will provide an environment for collaboration that supports accelerated innovation and the incorporation of next-generation architectural technologies into new building projects.”

Systems research at CASE is currently supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR).


Elizabeth Kubany, SOM
(212) 298-9516

Amber Cleveland, Rensselaer
(518) 276-2146