A view of the Morphosis project

Bentley’s annual Year in Infrastructure conference is underway in London, a city the company’s chief operating officer Malcolm Walter says is the perfect venue because it is currently “the centre of the infrastructure world”. It’s easy to see, with an estimated 400 cranes dotting the skyline.

Another view of the MMW project

As part of the conference is the Be Inspired awards, given to the most innovative projects around the world (well, those using Bentley’s software) in categories such as buildings, construction, government, asset management, land development, rail and megaprojects.

For the three finalists in the Innovation in Building category, sustainability has been an explicit goal for two of the projects.

First up, and the most impressive in terms of building sustainability, is Morphosis Architect’s US$85 million Emerson College Los Angeles campus, where a central core of academic facilities is framed by a rectangular box-like structure – a residential facility to house some 200 students of the school.

Morphosis project

The two residential towers, connected by a helipad, are geared towards sustainable processes, Morphosis director of design technology Cory Brugger told the conference audience, and feature prefabricated engineered panels, natural ventilation, water saving technology, solar hot water, and a curtain wall system with operable louvres and sensors. The building is targeting a LEED Gold rating.

Key to the sustainable outcomes has been building information modelling. In fact, without comprehensive BIM Morphosis could not build the complex buildings they are known for, Mr Brugger said –an assertion repeated by many firms throughout the conference.

Next on the list is John Portman & Associates’ Yinchuan Greenland Centre for Chinese development giant Greenland Group.

The 306,000 square metre, two-tower mixed-use project has been designed to reach a LEED Silver standard, using energy and solar analysis to design for minimum heating and cooling costs –a difficult feat for a fully glazed project, though high performance, low-e glass and sun shading helps the energy performance. To the south and west, the facade incorporates a horizontal sunshade system that allows floor-to-ceiling glazing. On the east and the north, patterned fit glass offers daylight control.

The twin towers, designed to reflect the “Chinese-Arab axis”, reach up to 301 metres, just enough to put them in the “super tall”buildings category. BIM, John Portman and Associates principal and design director Gordon Beckman said, was becoming increasingly important as buildings become continually more complex.

Finally, is the remotely located Hotel Arlamów in the deep forests of the Carpathian Mountains in

The John Portman & Associates project

Poland, designed by Polish architecture firm MWM.

The luxury 500,000 sq m facility on 100 hectares of land would have been “impossible without BIM”, MWM director Maciej ?obos said. The hotel complex includes a conference centre, sports hall, football stadium, and golf course on a historical site.

As it is remotely located, a trigeneration plant powered by waste wood provides heat, energy and cooling to the facility.

And the winner?

Morphosis Architects. It seems having strong sustainability outcomes really pays off.

The Fifth Estate travelled to London as a guest of Bentley Systems.

The MMW project in Poland