Building Resilient Communities
October 1, 2015
Sarah Hall, RCA
Sarah Hall Studio
Sarah Hall is internationally recognized for her large-scale art glass installations and solar projects. Following her studies in Architectural Glass at Swansea College of Art in Wales and a subsequent apprenticeship with Lawrence Lee, master of Glass at Royal College of Art in London, Sarah established her studio in Toronto in 1980.
Since then she has created hundreds of architectural glass projects in a wide variety of buildings throughout North America and Europe. Sarah’s exceptional contributions to the built environment have been honoured by both the Ontario Association of Architects (Allied Arts Award) and The American Institute of Architects. In 2002 she was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Art.
Over the past decade Sarah has pioneered a new direction in architectural glass in North America: merging artistic glass design with technical innovations related to green building. In 2005, Sarah received a Chalmers Fellowship to integrate photovoltaic technology into her glass installations. This fusion of art glass and solar energy was the first of its kind in North America, and since then she has created groundbreaking works for buildings across the continent. Award winning solar projects created by Sarah and her team include: “Lux Nova” at UBC; “The Science of Light” at Grass Valley Elementary School in Camas, Washington; “Leaves of Light,” a freestanding sculpture for the Life Sciences Building at York University; “Lux Gloria” at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon; and “Waterglass” at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto.
Sarah believes Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) can be part of every major building project. BIPV incorporates solar energy collection directly into a building’s envelope as part of its architectural design, with minimal consequences in terms of environmental degradation or resource depletion. The PV modules serve a dual purpose — replacing a conventional building envelope and generating power. BIPV technology is incorporated into many new buildings in Europe, but is still an emerging practice in Canada. Sarah has researched and photographed many outstanding examples of this new contribution to resilient communities.
In her most recent work, Sarah continues to explore innovative approaches to pressing environmental issues. In addition to bringing third generation photovoltaics (organic solar) into architecture, she is looking for ways to mitigate the world-wide problem of bird deaths caused by collisions with glass. This man-made plague causes some 100 million bird fatalities per year, and the culprit is not just skyscrapers. The clear glass installed in many types of buildings can be equally deadly. Sarah is working with researchers at the American Bird Conservancy to integrate new patterns and surfaces in architectural glass that will warn birds away and collect energy from sunlight at the same time.
Throughout her career Sarah has sought to improve human environments through the medium of architectural glass. Over the years she has discovered creative ways to tackle global problems while maintaining the aesthetic integrity of her works - finding ways to develop greater energy autonomy and to live in harmony with the natural world.
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