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Design vs Use

June 19, 2012

Stairwell outside envelope forcably added to conditioned space

Often designers have the greatest of intentions. They design buildings to save energy and money, but once the building is built, the designer goes away and the people left behind to run the building just don't seem to understand. This is my building, Holden Hall, at Texas Tech University. Yes, climate is housed in the Political Science Department, but that's another post. The architect who designed this building planned for the stairwells to be outside the envelope as partially (or accidentally) conditioned space. It's an energy saving measure to move that volume of air with near constant exposure to the outside from doors opening to be without supply from the chillers. I guess people complained of the stairwells being too hot so the University decided to take all the doors off their hinges leading to the stairwells. Every floor, every stairwell. It's a massive energy drain on the building that the designers did not intend. I hate how good design ends up getting abused so that now we are worse off than if the architect had simply put the stairwell inside the envelope in the beginning.

New update from late June: The doors are back up! I don't know what happened to reverse the decision, but we're back to having doors again. It looks and performs better.