This pinnacle project challenged the design team to translate the University’s environmental ethic into the built environment. The site achieved a number of imperatives from integrated stormwater management to highlighting opportunities for ‘science on display’. It created spaces for purposeful and casual interaction between faculty, students and visitors to the building.
The site plan organized itself around two primary goals stated at the outset of the project. The first was to preserve as many existing, mature trees as possible. The second was to create something of visual impact on the site to identify the campus and serve as the terminal view down a major arterial into the heart of campus. Thoughtful building siting and rigorous site design responded to both of these priorities.
The major design movement through the site is a dry streambed that accepts and conveys all of the water from the site and roof surfaces. Boardwalks, intimate gardens spaces and an outdoor teaching classroom connect along the length of the streambed’s path. Custom details for a number of site elements including the teaching classroom writing surface, chimney swift towers (habitat-creating constructions that look like art installations), illuminated handrails and an extremely diverse planting design set this project apart.
A south-facing, accessible 2,500 square foot green roof is organized around a central, mounded planting island with an elliptical form that maximized the allowable square footage for exiting capacity and gracefully embraced three custom-detailed raised metal planters. The planters became key features of the overall design and allow student groups to propagate vegetables and herbs, fostering a continued connection between the core environmental values of the University and the project.