Max Lyon, LEED AP

Max Lyon, LEED AP

Chicago, IL, US


Masters Thesis

THESIS  |  Integrated Sustainability

TOWER  |  the SkyRise

The modern skyscraper is inherently unsustainable, and in order to make a tower 'green,' we outfit them with bells and whistles.  An obsession with eco-gadgets has created only techno-add-ons, meant to correct inefficiencies in design.  But true sustainability begins with the designers.

The SkyRise is the embodiment of just that, a concept called "Integrated Sustainability" and used to demonstrate this Masters Thesis.  It consists of two core principles, each with 3 strategies (see "THESIS" tab below for more detail):

PERFORMANCE and the environmental impact of the tower

  • orientation:  designing for optimal light while lessening heat gain/loss
  • ecomimisis:  integrating nature's solutions into the built environment
  • envelope:  consciously designing the skin to go beyond the simple aesthetics

PROGRAM and the social element; ensuring the tower's use and longevity

  • vertical neighborhood:  creating an urban neighborhood turned vertically
  • community needs:  populating the tower with the needs of the site around it
  • open to public:  design form & amenities that pull people into site & up tower

By following these strategies, a tower can engage its surroundings and promote its occupants to use and enjoy it, ensuring its purpose long into the future.  All the while, the use of such a tower does not harm the environment around it, promising an environment left to return to once the occupant leaves the building.

The SkyRise demonstrates how design can directly affect sustainability, and what we as designers can do before any of the eco-gadgets come into play. This is the daunting challenge of true architectural sustainability: to sustain the human enjoyment as well as the environment.

This project was made possible with the support of thesis adviser, David Brininstool, AIA.

*see full project details at*

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Status: School Project
Location: Chicago, IL, US