Launch Slideshow

Portrait of Ed Mazria, principle of Architecture 2030, photographed in Santa Fe, NM on July 24, 2009. USAGE: Interior editorial use for Ecohome Magazine, 2009, and related web/PR use.

Valiant Journey

If The Hanley Award were simply an honor for creating an influential body of architectural work or for contributions to technical research and innovation in buildings, Mazria’s accomplishments in these areas alone would shine.

Valiant Journey

If The Hanley Award were simply an honor for creating an influential body of architectural work or for contributions to technical research and innovation in buildings, Mazria’s accomplishments in these areas alone would shine.

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    Stockebrand Residence, 1981 Albuquerque, N.M.

    In this passive solar home Mazria brought a new level of design into play illustrating the integration of simple direct-gain elements in a more interesting and complex architectural form and shape that blends with its surroundings.

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    Stockebrand Residence, 1981 Albuquerque, N.M.

    In this passive solar home Mazria brought a new level of design into play illustrating the integration of simple direct-gain elements in a more interesting and complex architectural form and shape that blends with its surroundings.

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    Stockebrand Residence, 1981 Albuquerque, N.M.

    In this passive solar home Mazria brought a new level of design into play illustrating the integration of simple direct-gain elements in a more interesting and complex architectural form and shape that blends with its surroundings.

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    La Vereda Compound, 1982 Santa Fe, N.M.

    Built in the city’s historic district, La Vereda was the first passive solar townhouse development in the country and includes 27 units that cascade down a south-facing slope. The pioneering project was widely viewed as a milestone in solar design and construction.

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    La Vereda Compound, 1982 Santa Fe, N.M.

    Built in the city’s historic district, La Vereda was the first passive solar townhouse development in the country and includes 27 units that cascade down a south-facing slope. The pioneering project was widely viewed as a milestone in solar design and construction.

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    La Vereda Compound, 1982 Santa Fe, N.M.

    Built in the city’s historic district, La Vereda was the first passive solar townhouse development in the country and includes 27 units that cascade down a south-facing slope. The pioneering project was widely viewed as a milestone in solar design and construction.

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    In 2002 Edward Mazria founded Architecture 2030, a non-profit education and research organization. The group’s 2030 Challenge, setting a timeline and roadmap for the building industry to achieve carbon-neutral peformance levels by 2030, has been widely adopted by industry, government, and educational leaders, and its targets have been included in emerging energy and building codes, and state and federal legislation related to climate change initiatives.
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    Mt. Airy Public LIbrary, 1983 Mt. Airy, N.C.

    This well-known library achieved an 80% reduction in energy consumption from its daylighting and passive solar design features—a first for library buildings.

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    Mt. Airy Public LIbrary, 1983 Mt. Airy, N.C.

    This well-known library achieved an 80% reduction in energy consumption from its daylighting and passive solar design features—a first for library buildings.

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    Mt. Airy Public LIbrary, 1983 Mt. Airy, N.C.

    This well-known library achieved an 80% reduction in energy consumption from its daylighting and passive solar design features—a first for library buildings.

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    Sol y Sombra, 1989 Santa Fe, N.M.

    Built on the former estate of artist Georgia O’Keeffe, Sol y Sombra was designed as a foundation headquarters and meeting center. The greenhouse contains three climate zones. The grounds include water harvesting and a constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment.

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    Sol y Sombra, 1989 Santa Fe, N.M.

    Built on the former estate of artist Georgia O’Keeffe, Sol y Sombra was designed as a foundation headquarters and meeting center. The greenhouse contains three climate zones. The grounds include water harvesting and a constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment.

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    Sol y Sombra, 1989 Santa Fe, N.M.

    Built on the former estate of artist Georgia O’Keeffe, Sol y Sombra was designed as a foundation headquarters and meeting center. The greenhouse contains three climate zones. The grounds include water harvesting and a constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment.

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    Rio Grande Botanic Garden, 1998 Albuquerque, N.M.

    Mazria’s research while designing these two all-glass pavilions uncovered the benefits of placing glass with different properties on different exposures of a building.

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    Woods Residence, 1981 Wintergreen, VA

    This mountain home was the first residence to incorporate a number of passive solar strategies into one building, including direct gain, thermal storage walls, and an integrated sunspace coupled to a rock storage bin.

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    Mazria’s research at the University of Oregon formed the basis of his book, published in 1979, that became the bible of solar design. Its success worldwide is due to the way it presents complex, technical information in very understandable and applicable language.

Actually, at that point in 1976, there were only a few architects who had any solar knowledge or experience. So, in the months leading up to his start at Oregon, Mazria returned to New Mexico and immersed himself in solar studies and research with Ray Harrigan, an engineer at Sandia National Laboratories. Mazria credits Harrigan with helping him distill and decipher volumes of technical data and translate it into a more understandable language so that he and his students at Oregon could apply it to their studies. This set the stage for further research that would enlighten his practice and his profession for years to come; it also was the period when Mazria’s social awareness, architectural direction, and environmental consciousness began to coalesce.

Patterns

If there’s one trait that ties the beginnings of Mazria’s career through to his current mission, it’s his ability to look at complex data and recognize patterns. Mazria arrived in Oregon with a suitcase stuffed with computer punch-cards programmed to model the energy performance of a single direct-gain passive solar room. Working with his research and teaching assistant Steve Baker and their students, Mazria began two years of research using this basic computer program to model passive solar design elements for buildings, modifying it to simulate different climate and solar energy conditions and latitudes.

“Steve was a computer whiz, and every night he would take another batch of punch cards to the computer center and run the program for a different set of conditions,” says Mazria. “And every day we’d take the print-outs and tape them to the wall. It wasn’t long before the walls were completely covered, and we could start to see the performance patterns emerge.” Those patterns became the language of passive solar design and resulted in widely accepted and easy-to-apply recommendations for building orientation, glazed wall areas, shading, and thermal mass design still used today.

Mazria presented the results at the 2nd National Passive Solar Conference in 1978 and was, at first, met with skepticism by the audience. In attendance was pioneering solar research scientist Douglas Balcomb, Ph.D., from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. “I remember following Doug onto the stage to present our passive solar design principles,” says Mazria. “At the time research was still being conducted using test boxes with thermal sensors, so people were somewhat skeptical that we could have come so far so fast. But by the end of the presentation everyone including Balcomb realized that we really did know what we were talking about.”

This was still very early in the solar energy movement of the ’70s, so the timing of Mazria’s research couldn’t have been better. After returning to Albuquerque in 1978, Mazria published The Passive Solar Energy Book (Rodale Press, 1979), which thrust him into the national spotlight. “This was the first book that put solar building design information into a language people could use,” says Mazria, “and it was the first time since Christopher Alexander published A Pattern Language that the pattern language format was put to use in this way.”

It was time for Mazria to practice what he had been preaching.

The Practice

Mazria established his architectural practice in Albuquerque in 1978 and began work on his Master of Architecture degree at the University of New Mexico, and in 1985 he joined the vibrant solar energy community in Santa Fe, where he still lives and works. His architectural work combined the elements of his design philosophies with the science of his technical research. As his practice evolved, attracting increasingly interesting and challenging projects, so did his research. His buildings reflected strong ties to New Mexico’s climate and landscape; respect for its traditional architectural forms, styles, and materials; and enlightened integration of technical solutions based on the simple elegance of passive solar design elements.

The more he learned from his buildings, the more he applied the knowledge to his practice and spread the word among others so that the growing circle of solar designers could compare notes and advance their efforts as a whole. It was an intense period of design, research, analysis, writing, and cross-pollination at conferences and workshops across the country where Mazria was always a featured speaker.

In addition to his practice, Mazria collaborated with Doug Balcomb and pioneer solar developers Wayne and Susan Nichols to form Passive Solar Associates, a sort of solar super-group that toured nationally training thousands of architects, builders, and public officials in two-day design and technical workshops.

Back in the studio, each project presented its own challenges and solutions—and yielded its own lessons. There were passive solar homes, museums, schools, community centers, and botanical gardens. And there were some noteworthy firsts, such as the Mt. Airy Public Library in North Carolina, which he designed in 1983 and is widely known due to its achieving an 80% reduction in energy demand through its daylighting and passive design features. “This was the first institutional building designed for almost 100% daylighting,” Mazria says. “All of its energy savings were achieved just through design.”