Archive for December, 2010

Simmons Hall, MIT: Lungs

Simmons is permeated by five atria, or “lungs”: amorphous, multi-story tears in the building fabric designed to pull natural light into the building hollows while providing a vertical channel for warm air to escape. Per Arup, the atria are treated with the same mechanical approach as student rooms.


The architect's rendering


Mixed mode supply outlets at the base of the atria supplement natural ventilation in the summer while heated air is supplied into the top of the atria during winter months. Air from mixed mode supply is drawn through the corridors by extract systems located in the bathrooms. As before, the system changes automatically in the spring and fall: air at outdoor temperature is filtered into the atria and corridor and combined with natural ventilation as needed.


Interior view of Simmons’ “Lungs”:



Simmons Hall, MIT: Mixed Mode

Mixed Mode Engineers implemented a “mixed mode” system inspired by known European technology. Mixed mode is “a hybrid arrangement that combines the mechanical cooling ef- fects of a low-volume ducted air-conditioning system with natural ventilation effects of opening windows.” This is similar to the benefits one experiences when walking past the doors of an air-conditioned store- front on a hot day). Further, Arup argues that the mixed mode system offers inherent maintenance advan- tages: “Three AHUs require considerably less mainte- nance than the 250 fan coil units in a traditional air-conditioning scheme.” Simmons Hall was and still is one of the first buildings in the US to use this system.

Tripartite Division Simmons’ climate system is designed to respond to con- ditions in each of the structure’s three sections, or “towers.” Horizontal distribution is limited by the ar- chitectural requirement for high-ceilinged corridors, so distribution occurs primarily through vertical ris- ers. Each of the three tower roofs is fitted with an individual air-handling unit, or AHU.


Tripartite Division