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W. Brent Swain: Sustainable Architecture

"Building performance is the driver, and design aesthetics are critical, but must be handled in a way that is sensitive to client needs, user needs, local needs and history. I am constantly trying to reintegrate performance assessment into the design process. Using BIM, it is possible to achieve a design process that holistically encompasses functionality, aesthetics and performance– ensuring that the building design generates the best built-solution for each client / program."

Design Philosophy: W. Brent Swain, AIA, NCARB
"Form ever follows function." - quoting Louis Sullivan, quoting American sculptor Horatio Greenbough"

I believe building performance is the driver, and design aesthetics are critical, but must be handled in a way that is sensitive to client needs, user needs, local needs and history. I am constantly trying to reintegrate performance assessment into the design process. Using BIM, it is possible to achieve a design process that holistically encompasses functionality, aesthetics and performance– ensuring that the building design generates the best built-solution for each client / program.

Design Methodology: W. Brent Swain, AIA, NCARB

"In my practice and service to other Architects, I have had particular experience and focus on sustainable building envelope design, energy performance analysis (tools: ArchiCAD BIM, Energy-10, eQUEST), educational design & facilities assessment, architectural acoustics, religious architecture, sustainable residential design with various construction systems (SIP, ICF, ISBU, log & timber), and low-cost housing solutions. Using BIM, I pursue design that speaks visually and functionally to the client with optimal performance.  I attach performance-based characteristics to objects in the model which update with design decisions to optimize performance in a variety of areas."

At Sustainable Architecture, we have integrated energy, structural, and life-cycle cost performance analyses into the architectural design process using BIM processes and tools.  We seek to help clients and other architects achieve superior results through data analysis during the design process.

For example, for cost estimating, the BIM procedures we have developed allow square-foot costs (RSMeans data) to be attached to CSI assemblies or to individual components within the building model, with the computer doing the math and tracking design changes for accurate and up-to-date estimating.

Using ASHRAE calculations and data from the building model, we presented similar analyses for building envelope passive-solar and energy performance last May at the AIA convention in Boston.  We are currently updating those analyses to utilize the most current analysis instruments for residential energy analysis (Residential Load Factor "RLF" method), and non-residential energy analysis (radiant time series "RTS" method). We are currently exploring Athena Institute tools (LCA) and DOE resources (BLCC) to integrate life-cycle costing into the BIM building cost and energy performance analyses.

To optimize the efficiency and cost of the building structure, member profiles and sizes are optimized in the building model, and we have developed integrated systems for code compliance into the foundation design.

In these and other ways, we believe that if design decisions are data-driven through BIM, objective and subjective quality will cross-pollenate to enhance the overall design solution.

ArchiBIOG– Autobiography: W. Brent Swain, AIA, NCARB

Brent Swain has been working in the building industry since receiving his professional degree from Texas A&M in 2000 with emphases in sustainable design, low-cost housing, and educational design and facilities assessment.  Since 2005, Brent has provided architectural support services including CAD support, 3D graphic and visualization services, and schematic design.  Since 2007, services were expanded to include full architectural services in Kansas, specializing in passive-solar & energy-efficient design.  And in 2008, Brent established Sustainable Architecture, licensed in Kansas and Mississippi, adding full Building Information Modeling services to reintegrate building performance assessment into architectural design practice.

TIMELINE: Brent Swain met his wife, Kristen, in the orchestra at Ole Miss in 1987.  They dated while she was a journalist in Tupelo, MS (the birthplace of Elvis) and he a music student at the University of Alabama.  In 1990, Brent established Swain Studio originally as a violin & viola teaching & music composition studio in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  In 1993, Brent began his transition from music to architecture at the University of Florida, with an emphasis in architectural acoustics. Brent Swain has been working in the building industry since receiving his professional degree from Texas A&M in 2000, with emphases in sustainable design and educational design and facilities assessment.  In 2005, Swain Studio expanded to offer architectural CAD support, 3D graphics & visualization and schematic design services.  In April 2006, Brent and Kristen had a daughter, Madeline Frances Swain.  In 2007, Swain Studio became a full-service architecture firm licensed in Kansas, specializing in sustainable & passive-solar design and building energy analysis.  In 2008, Brent relocated to Mississippi and established "Sustainable Architecture," a full-service architecture firm providing integrated design and building performance analysis services through BIM.

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