Bartlesville, Oklahoma, Community Theater (1975)
This was the first building with Dr. Aitken as the energy and environmental consultant for the Taliesin Architects of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright's son-in-law William Wesley Peters, the building stands in the shadow of Wright's spectacular Price Tower (evident in the picture to the upper right). The building was designed to "float" with no mechanical conditioning when not in use within a 50 - 80 degree temperature band year round, throughout the harsh Bartlesville climate conditions, permitting both energy efficient operation and quick warm-up or cool-down prior to performances. This was accomplished by deep shading of the public balcony, which wraps around the south, east and west sides, with very few windows below, massive exposed interior thermal mass, heavy insulation of the envelope and the white reflecting roof, and controlled ventilation with economizer operation. An additional grant received to permit the building to be cooled by solar energy led to the design and engineering by Dr. Aitken of a solar-powered absorption cycle cooling system. The efficiency of the building would have enabled two 25 ton absorption cycle units, down rated for lower temperature operation to 40 tons total, operating singly or in parallel, to provide adequate cooling energy. The energy for vaporization was to be derived from a 5,000 square foot array of evacuated tube collectors on the roof. Ultimately, in order to get the building constructed, these additional funds had to be absorbed into the building budget, and the solar cooling system was not built. Nevertheless, the building has operated efficiently and to the full satisfaction of the community for over a quarter of a century. The roof remains available for potential solar thermal or solar electric (PV) retrofit opportunities.