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Laboratory Atria Design Strategies for Daylighting and Natural Ventilation

Jayesh X. Hariyani, Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates

The use of atria plays a significant role in the design of many buildings. Atria have been an integral part of many European buildings for some time. Most original research on atria, performed under the auspices of the Internal Energy Agency (IEA), has come from Norway. Atrium spaces, when properly integrated with the building design, complement the building's functionality, provide vibrant space, provide daylighting deep into the building interior, and also save energy. The proposed study will discuss the design of an atrium for an L-shaped 200,000 square foot building in Troy, New York. The glass used in the atrium is carefully selected, with the correct amount of "fritting" for solar control. In a rather benign cooling climate in Albany, strategies were studied to allow the atrium to remain at a comfortable temperature without using air conditioning. The study was performed using the following methods:

  • Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis for temperature distribution in the atrium, for selected design conditions.
  • An hour-by-hour analysis for determining annual history of space temperature using TRNSYS simulation.

The study considered the following strategies:

  • Natural and Forced Ventilation
  • Forced Ventilation and Night Flushing
  • Forced Ventilation and Night Flushing, with relief air from offices and computer labs

The results of the study showed that the natural ventilation above would not provide acceptable comfort in the atrium. Smoke exhaust fans were used with variable speed drive to provide forced ventilation. The optimum strategy yielded atrium temperatures which were within the acceptable comfort range for most of the year. Overheating situations were encountered for very few hours in the summer. The study resulted in a savings of 250 tons of cooling system for the atrium. The details of the study, the methodology, and the results will be presented. The environmental benefits of this strategy will also be presented.


  • Use of atrium provides daylighting, energy savings, and delightful space for people interaction.
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis has been used to study the ventilation strategies for the conditioning of the atrium with no air conditioning.
  • Comfort conditions can be maintained by exhausting relief air from the building through the atrium and night cooling with ambient air in cold climates.
  • Significant first cost savings in equipment cost are possible.
  • The building is under construction.

Labs21 Connection:

  • Energy and environmental performance goals
  • Range of sustainable energy and water efficiency
  • Sustainable design opportunities beyond building site


Jayesh X Hariyani is an associate and a lead architect in Burt Hill's high tech market sector. His artistic ability coupled with his technical capabilities creates a new dimension to visual presentations. He quickly and easily transforms design concepts into 3-dimensional renderings. From his international experience, he is sensitive to the multi-cultural influences. He was the lead architect on the project being presented in this submission. Jayesh had been involved in many projects for residential development, focusing on both research and design of community development and the sociological impact. He is Burt Hill's lead architect on the University of Texas Institute of Molecular Medicine Building in Houston.


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