Project profile: University Classroom Building
The nature reserve where this LEED Platinum-certified building is located is a contiguous natural area, 55 acres in size, deeded to the University in the 1950s for educational and recreational use. The site has hiking trails through old-growth hardwoods frequented by the university students as well as the public. The building is located on the hilltop above the pond at the entry to the reserve where there was an existing volleyball court thus avoiding the disturbance of any undeveloped land. Great care was taken to achieve ADA and fire emergency access, turning usual problems into classical processional access.
The facility is designed to serve eight different departments for the nature portions of their teaching and study at a regional University. The University desired that this building have minimum environmental impact and that it be highly energy efficient even in the Northern Minnesota cold climate. In addition to the LEED certification system, the design team also used the German Passivhaus system in the design process to meet all the performance goals set forth by the client.
Construction of the building was completed in June 2010. Since then, the building has performed beyond expectations in terms of performance efficiency as well as the frequency and amount of occupancy by the University. Not only has it served as a classroom per its program but has also been frequently used as an events site by the University.
(2012 AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects recipient)