Berkeley balcony collapse: A failure at the intersection of building science and microbiology

I saw the tweet below from James Scott first thing this morning, linking to a NY Times article about the tragic balcony collapse in Berkeley, CA two days ago: Fungi to blame for fatal Berkeley balcony collapse, via @nytimes http://t.co/MLWX24x4Z1 – James Scott (@jscott_toronto) June 18, 2015 From the article: The engineers said photographs taken by …

Review of Architectural Design Drives the Biogeography of Indoor Bacterial Communities

By Amanda Makowiecki 1st Year Mechanical Engineering PhD Student Miller Research Group, University of Colorado Boulder Researchers at the University of Oregon recently published a paper examining the connection between architectural design and microbial diversity in our buildings (Kembel et al. 2014). Although occupancy type was identified as the strongest predictor of microbial variation, several …

Fascinating look and Microbes, Architecture and the Anthropocene from Nicholas Korody

I am starting to think a lot about the connections between architecture and microbiology – in part in preparation for the American Institute for Architects Annual Meeting in Atlanta May 14-16 where I will be participating in sessions on “microbes in the built environment” The tentative details for the sessions are Session: Microbes in the Built Environment: Perspectives …

A disturbing trend – casual and reckless use of antimicrobial agents in building materials.

There was a very interesting artilce in the New York Times on August 21 bu Michael Kimmelman: In Redesigned Room, Hospital Patients May Feel Better Already.  The article focuses on a move by the University Medical Center of Princeton to redesign hospital rooms.  And Kimmelman discusses a variety of issues associated with hospital design. And there were …

A heartbreaking dome of staggering magnitude

Alex Pasternack at Vice.com’s Motherboard channel has some very interesting thoughts on domes. Giant, massive, city-bestriding domes, starting with the Great Stink Dome of Hangzhou, which was erected to contain vapors emanating from the site of a former insecticide factory. Pasternack’s article discusses some of the fascinating history related to the idea of dropping domes …

Susceptibility of green and conventional building materials to microbial growth

“Susceptibility of green and conventional building materials to microbial growth” Indoor Air journal, accepted for publication Abstract Green building materials are becoming more popular. However, little is known about their ability to support or limit microbial growth. The growth of fungi was evaluated on five building materials. Two green, two conventional building materials and wood …

The 11.4 million mile swab kit

I’m proud to announce that the sample collection for the building science component of Project MERCCURI is complete! In early May, Koichi Wakata from JAXA (Japan’s space exploration agency) collected swabs swabs of surfaces aboard the International Space Station. Back in June last year, Jenna, Wendy and I went to the Johnson Space Center in …

Society of Architectural Historians seeking nominations for “distinguished work of film or video on the history of the built environment”

  This seems like a very interesting award: Applications Open for the 2015 SAH Award for Film and Video. The Society for Architectural Historians is seeking nominations for “the most distinguished work of film or video on the history of the built environment.” The first SAH Award for Film and Video was presented last year at …

The science of designing portable classrooms on Newshour (though no microbiology per se — yet)

Heard a very interesting story on NewsHour yesterday about portable classrooms: The story is reported by Katie Campbell of KCTS in Seattle. Some of the issues discussed in the context of “reinventing” portable classrooms include carbon dioxide monitoring, sustainability and the Living Building Standards, using solar for electricity, natural ventilation instead of noisy HVAC units, …