AIA South Atlantic Regional Conference
Greenville, SC Oct 1, 2009
This is a regional conference that meets every three years bringing together architects from NC, SC and GA. This year the conference was in Greenville, SC and it offered educational seminars, tours and an expo hall with the latest materials and products. The seminar topics ranged from Integrated Projects Achieving High Performance Buildings to Alternative Housing Models from Copenhagen, Denmark and the Netherlands.
One of my favorite seminars was titled “Build Like a Farmer” given by Chad Everheart, Architect, AIA. The presentation focused on a simpler, more practical approach to cultivating designs for modest living based on the resourcefulness of building like a farmer. Farmers construct modest buildings that are sensible, functional and simple. We can learn a lot from the minimalism of agricultural buildings and farmsteads which incorporate vernacular forms and indigenous materials. Farmers use a commonsense approach to design which is sustainable and environmentally conscious while being regionally appropriate and in context with its local community, producing meaningful and responsible architecture.
Another excellent seminar was “Lake/Flato on Sustainable Design Approach” presented by Ted Flato, Architect, FAIA. This approach focused on solutions of vernacular architecture incorporating sustainable strategies for different building types to achieve energy conservation and protect natural resources.
One of the highlights at this conference for me was the tour of the BMW Manufacturing Plant near Greenville, SC which is BMW’s first full manufacturing facility outside of Germany. This plant, which produces the BMW-X5 and X6 hybrid, is four million square feet, employs 5,000 people and produces 600 vehicles per day. This particular plant is the most sustainable automotive manufacturing facility in the world. They recycle 100% of their manufacturing scrap, and the building is powered by reclaimed methane gas which produces 60% of its energy needs. The assembly process, using a careful intricate flow of sequenced parts and timed processes, was amazing to watch. As an architect in a field that uses a design process, I found it fascinating to watch the automated use of hundreds of robots performing welding as they manipulated the vehicle body at high speeds and efficiencies. I highly recommend this tour. (Call 1-888-TOUR-BMW).
Downtown Greenville was a great place to hold the conference. I especially enjoyed going to the Riverplace Development which is an oasis in the heart of Greenville’s historic west end, and Falls Park on the Reedy River with its famous suspension footbridge and scenic overlooks. As the sun set, conferees were treated to Dining by Design including restaurants such as High Cotton which features game and fresh fish, Oysters on the West Side featuring a taste of the low-country, and The Lazy Goat with flavors of the Mediterranean.