» It would be something of an understatement to say that the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh is a departure from a typical and architecturally mundane exhibition hall. This space, in its form and lighting approach, is environmentally conscious. In fact, it is the world's first certified green convention center. While architect Rafael Viñoly conceived the center as a daylit space and focused the design on sustainability, the advocacy for a green building was aggressively led by the Green Building Alliance of Pittsburgh, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing about the integration of green building practices into development projects.

Situated on the Allegheny River shore, the sweeping roof of the massive 984-foot-long, 1.5 million-square-foot structure with its cable suspension system and bridge-like curves, pays homage to a local landmark, the Three Sisters-a trio of suspension bridges to the west of the convention center. Part of the natural ventilation system, the roof also offers a column-free exhibition hall, and perhaps most relevant to its designation as Best Incorporation of Daylight, eleven 8-foot-wide glazed glass ribbon skylights that cover 10 percent of the roof and allow the entry of daylight.

David Rolland, project manager with New York-based Rafael Viñoly Architects, explains, 'Architecture is both mass and space. The interplay of solid and void, surface and opening, and protrusion and reveal can only be accomplished through the delineation of light and shadow.' Add to these skylights an expanse of glass walls on the north side, and daylight becomes the primary source of illumination throughout the main exhibit hall and perimeter pre-function areas.

Inside the exhibit hall, daylight is augmented by continuous lines of direct/indirect T5HO photocell-controlled fluorescent fixtures that downlight the exhibits, and also uplight the voluminous roof structure. Rather than metal halide high-bay fixtures, fluorescent lighting was chosen after a battery of exhaustive physical and computer modeling to analyze and manipulate daylight levels and sun patterns. Lam Partners principal Keith Yancey says that, in addition to concerns about energy use and the difficulty in finely controlling metal halide, the team ultimately 'chose a fluorescent system that could be integrated into the architectural components, thus avoiding huge fixtures stuck onto the delicate structure of the space.'

Something was needed to control the natural light spilling into the hall, so a shading system of sails and panels was developed that adjusts to control daylight and alter direct sunlight. The multitude of motorized opaque shades can provide full exposure, diffuse the light, or create a complete blackout. As Yancey states, 'we needed a solution to basically throttle the sunlight down to virtually nothing.'

Jury Comments There are so many different sources necessary in a building like this, so one of the things appreciated is that it is very minimal.

project David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh
architect Rafael Vi?oly, New York
lighting designer Lam Partners, Cambridge, MA
photographer Brad Feinknopf/Feinknopf Photography; Stephen M. Lee
total square footage 1.5 million
watts per square foot 1.35

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