Dr. Reid and the Powerhouse

July 30, 2015
Session R1C: Buildings with History and Promise — Room 106
9:00 am  -  10:00 am

“Harvey Lonsdale Elmes, the young architect for the new St George’s Hall in Liverpool, England, was eager to learn about Dr. Reid’s experiments with warming and ventilation. Following a devastating fire that destroyed the old Palace of Westminster, Dr. Reid, a chemistry professor and a medical doctor, had successfully designed an intricate warming and ventilation system for the new assembly halls. Elmes followed closely as the work at the Temporary House of Commons progressed. He visited Dr. Reid’s testing facilities at his chemistry laboratory, which at this time had been expanded into a research facility for experimental studies of the movement of air and smoke under changing environmental conditions. The young architect did not live to see St George’s Hall completed, but Dr. Reid went on to design and build the most technologically advanced warming and ventilation system of its time, combining warming with a fan driven ventilation system that worked in tandem with natural ventilative cooling.

One hundred and sixty years later, preparations are made to build the Powerhouse One in Trondheim, Norway. Promoted by leading entities from the research community, the construction industry and governmental funding programs, the project design team is headed up by Snøhetta Architects in cooperation with their consulting engineers. At a climatically challenging location at 64 degrees Northern latitude, the goals are set high: not only to reach a net zero energy building, but to surpass that line and enter the territory of a plus design, a building that during its lifetime would generate enough energy to support its operation and in addition generate the energy needed to pay back the energy used to construct the building and to ultimately demolish and recycle it.

The presentation will take the audience on a journey from Liverpool to Trondheim, explaining the technologies, systems, and control mechanisms used to create comfortable environments for human activity under challenging conditions. Connections will be made, pointing to similarities and divergences in efforts to make the best building of its time and place.”