0

ADAM JOSEPH LEWIS CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES, 1996-2000

Oberlin, Ohio William McDonough + Partners

Description

Imagine entering a building through its waste treatment plant. Now forget everything you ever knew about waste treatment plants and imagine entering a building through something called its “Living Machine,” something that looks like a cross between a translucent water sculpture and a hydroponic garden. You have just entered the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies (CES).

The transition from sewage plants to Living Machines typifies the CES. The facility and the program it houses exemplify a step beyond stopgap industrial measures for saving the environment through conservation and recy­cling. Features of this project collectively demonstrate the vitality of a postindustrial mindset whereby nature is simultaneously celebrated for its abundance and respect­ed through our dual roles as its stewards and beneficiaries.

McDonough’s realization of this “reimaging” fits politely into the mixed fabric of the Oberlin campus. The building is sited away from the curb, bermed up its north wall, fronting a south-facing Sun Plaza, and landscaped by an orchard, a pond, a restored stand of native hardwood trees, and a vegetable garden. The vocabulary is calm and visually appropriate, fitting what its architect calls the suit­able resolution between “state-of-the-shelf” material selection and “state-of-the-art” technology. From the out­side the structure is glass and brick. Inside is the two-story atrium commons, a high arched wood ceiling, and an abundance of natural light. Every one of the building’s features is also a part of the CES curriculum, a hands-on learning laboratory.

[Image not available in this electronic edition.]

TABLE 11.7 Fact Sheet

Project

Building Name City

Lat/Long/Elev

Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies Oberlin, Ohio

41.29 N 82.23 W, 815 ft (248 m)

Team

Design

Structural Engineers Mechanical Engineers Energy Consultants Living Machine Wastewater Advisor Landscape General Contractor

William McDonough + Partners Lev Zetlin Associates Lev Zetlin Associates

Steven Winter Associates, Rocky Mountain Institute, and NASA/Lewis Space Center Living Technologies

John Todd & Michael Shaw, Living Technologies John Lyle Andropogon, Inc.

Mosser Construction

General

Time Line

Floor Area

Occupants

Cost

Stories

Plan

Design: begun early 1996, construction: September 1998 to September 2000 (dedication). 13,600 ft2 (1263 m2).

Not determined.

$6.0 million.

Two stories with open atrium and high-ceiling auditorium.

Classroom and auditorium wings joined by atrium.

Site

Site Description Parking, Cars

Campus. Campus lots.

Structure

Foundation Vertical Members Horizontal Spans

Concrete piers.

Steel frame.

Steel frame with laminated Douglas fir beams in atrium.

Envelope

Glass and Glazing Skylights Cladding Roof

Argon-filled triple-glazed units with an R-8.3 performance.

None.

Brick over concrete block.

Recycled aluminum-seamed panels with provision for photovoltaic panels above.

HVAC

Equipment

Cooling Type Distribution Duct Type Vertical Chases

Geothermal heat pumps on closed-loop water source in each space plus two large heat pumps for treatment of ventilation air. An electric boiler is used for backup when the water loop falls below 35°F.

Water-to-air heat pump.

Several one-room zones are created by use of many small heat pumps with individual controls. Minimal use of ducts, with multiple heat pumps displacing need for duct runs.

Most distribution is under the floor.

Interior

Partitions

Finishes

Vertical Circulation

Furniture

Lighting

Gypsum board on metal stud.

Maple was used for trim in most corridors and classrooms and for auditorium seat armrests and aisle side panels. Hem fir was used throughout the building and for the stage structure in the auditorium.

Stairs in atrium around one elevator, fire stair at southwest corner.

Various.

0.9 W/ft2 with occupancy sensor controls.

Recycled aluminum seamed panels with provision for photovoltaic panels above.

Geothermal heat pumps on closed loop water source in each space plus two large heat pumps for treatment of ventilation air. An electric boiler is used for back-up when the water loop falls below 35°F.

Several one-room zones are created by use of many small heat pumps with individual control Minimal use of ducts with multiple heat pumps displacing need for duct runs. Most distribution is under the floor.

Steel frame with laminated douglas fir beams in atrium

Argon filled triple glazed units with an R-8.3 performance

Figure 11.27 Anatomical section.

Brick over concrete block exterior walls. Interior walls are gypsum board on metal stud

Program

Client

Oberlin College, founded in 1833, is 45 minutes’ travel time southwest of Cleveland, Ohio. The institution can be described as a relatively small independent college in a very small town; the student population numbers less than 3000 and the entire town population less than 9000. Oberlin College is, however, noted for grand ideologies. It was the first coeducational college in the United States and among the first to admit African-Americans, in 1835. Admission is very selective, as indicated by Oberlin’s num­ber one ranking among undergraduate programs whose students go on to complete doctoral degrees. The college motto is adopted from mathematician Alfred North Whitehead’s dictum, “Direct knowledge is the foundation of intellectual life.” The motto frames the context of the CES program: hands-on, pragmatic, rigorous, multidisci­plined, and interactive. The 2000 edition of the Environmental Studies catalog listed 36 courses in 14 dis­ciplines with more than a third of all Oberlin students were taking at least one course in this curriculum.

Brief

The Oberlin Center for Environmental Studies was estab­lished in 1981. In the 17 years leading to the construction of a new building, the Center had become something of a focus for the Oberlin campus. David W. Orr is the director of the Center and author of two books, Earth in Mind (1994) and Ecological Literacy (1993). As the Environmental Studies program grew in size, popularity, and focus, he began a determined campaign to build an appropriate home for it. His vision was twofold. First, the building would produce zero waste, both on site and off, now and in the future. Second, the building would be integral with the curriculum, part of the learning experience.

In the 1992-93 academic year, Orr offered a course on ecological architecture and brought a series of green design experts to the college. Twenty-five students and a dozen architects participated. Their assigned task was to
develop architectural criteria for a new Center for Environmental Sciences. The product of their efforts set very high environmental priorities:

Discharge wastewater and storm water as clean as it came in.

Generate more electricity than used; become a net energy producer.

Incorporate no materials with known negative health impacts.

Use energy and materials with great efficiency.

Use products that are harvested or manufactured sus­tainably.

Participate in a landscape that promotes biological diversity.

Be cost-effective by full internal and external account­ing, achieving a net zero ecological impact.

Cause no ugliness, for humans or for the environ­ment, now or any time in the future.

By autumn 1995, there were about 60 students major­ing in Environmental Science at Oberlin and more than 750 students overall taking courses in this curriculum. Prompted by this growth and encouraged by incoming Oberlin College president Nancy Dye, the first of 13 design charrettes was held to establish the Center’s strategies for the proposed landmark building. President Dye has spoken about Oberlin’s transition from a liberal arts college and from a curriculum based on the domination of nature to one vested in environmental caretaking. Her charge to CES was to raise monies from new donors without tapping Oberlin’s existing development funds, and to complete the design and construction permit processes within two years.

The first planning event and the subsequent 12, attended by faculty and students, were in the style of an open town meeting. Practitioners who took part in these initial stages included two students from David Orr’s 1992 class experiment to preprogram the building. Architect John Lyle, author of Regenerative Design for Sustainable Development (1994), was hired to conduct the remaining design charrettes. The first agenda for the new Center described a 10,000 ft2 building with a $2.5 million budget ($250/ft2). All of the 1992 goals were captured in the brief.

Design charrettes began in the fall of 1995. Some 250 participants were involved, including students, faculty, and community members. Advertising the project brought professional services proposals from 26 architectural firms; 5 were chosen for interview. In January of 1996, William McDonough + Partners was announced as the final selection.

By early 1996, Orr and his program had raised $900,000. In December of that year, businessman Peter Lewis and his son, Adam Joseph Lewis, made a gift of $3 million to the project. The visionary project instantly became a reality. A project budget of $5 million was reported in December 1996 and a construction cost of $6 million was published in December 1998.

Site

The Center for Environmental Studies is located on the southeast corner of the Oberlin campus, a campus that largely constitutes the east side of town. Originally the school was developed around a treeless town square named College Park. The square remains to this day, though fully landscaped and renamed Tappan Square by students after one of the college’s abolitionist era patrons. CES is two blocks southwest of the park, skirted by lovely nineteenth-century buildings to the east. Residential areas meet the western edge of the site. Dormitory buildings lie south of the site, a student center and library to the north. Access is from the south side off a campus street. Farther to the east is the Oberlin Conservatory Complex, by

Minoru Yamasaki in 1964, along with Gunner Birkert’s Conservatory Library addition of 1988.

Climate

Oberlin is close enough to weather stations in Cleveland to share that city’s climate data. Their mutual proximity to the south shores of Lake Erie also validates the usefulness of Cleveland measurements. The regional climate most resembles that of Chicago, or Moline, Illinois. Cleveland/Oberlin has annual totals of 6059 degree-days heating and 755 degree-days cooling—very close to the totals of Chicago and Moline.

The continentality of Oberlin is offset to some degree by the lake. Although winds are generally from the south and southwest most of the year, the lake tends to reverse the flow during warmer afternoons. This occurs when the lake is cooler than the bordering land areas, causing the atmosphere to cool over the lake and warm over the land, and so breezes come off the water and onto the land to equalize the flow. They bring with them a temperature moderating effect but also introduce higher levels of sum­mer humidity. August normal daily highs of 81°F are accompanied by 58 percent relative humidity, and the nor­mal daily low of 61°F is matched to 85 percent relative humidity. Only 940 hours per year (11 percent) are expected to exceed 75°F, however, and of those only 150 or so will exceed 85°F (2 percent of all hours).

The larger concern in Oberlin is the heating season. Normal daily lows in December average 25°F. A full 20 percent of annual hours are below freezing, with the frost season spanning from October to April. Snowfall normal­ly totals about 84 in. over the same period. Prevailing win­ter winds are from the southwest at 11 knots.

The cool portion of the year, covering temperatures between 32°F and 65°F, occupies 52 percent of the weath­er, or 4530 hours per year. This leaves 1556 hours, or an 18 percent comfortable outdoor climate period.

Rainfall and fog are common occurrences in Oberlin. About 165 days (45 percent) have measurable rainfall, and an equal number of days experience fog. There is no dry sea­son, as the 37.2 in. of annual rainfall are almost evenly dis­tributed through the year. Spring is the wettest season, and most of the clear weather days occur from May to October.

Intention

Design Team

William McDonough was born in 1951 in Japan. His childhood was influenced by a contrast of environments —he grew up in crowded and water-starved Hong Kong and spent summers in the lush old-growth forests sur­rounding his grandparent’s cabin on Puget Sound, Washington. He was graduated from Dartmouth in 1973 and later studied at Yale under James Stirling. In 1981 he founded William McDonough + Partners in New York. Among his first major works was the headquarters for the Environmental Defense Fund in Warsaw, Poland. When he was appointed dean of architecture at the University of Virginia in 1994, the firm moved to Charlottesville, Virginia. Among McDonough’s corporate clients are an impressive list of mainstream businesses: BASF, Ford, The Gap, Herman Miller, IBM, Palm, Inc., S. C. Johnson, Steelcase, and Wal-Mart.

The other participants in the project complete a sur­prisingly diverse interdisciplinary team (see the Fact Sheet for a complete list). Their inclusion demonstrates the complexity of the ecological problems addressed despite the relatively small scale of the building program.

Collaborations among specialists like these at Oberlin, or on the NMB Bank projects, are likely to escalate as the model of their design becomes more widely imitated. These new teams also have a remarkable likeness to the natural processes their buildings imitate. Rather than fol­lowing the old linear model of handing off design devel­opment tasks to each successive specialist for work to be done in isolation, green building teams operate as interac­tive and interdependent organizations. This is a deliberate step, which Director David Orr describes as “intended to maximize the integration of building systems and tech­nologies and the relationship between the building and the landscape.”

philosophy

William McDonough wants to “reimagine the future” by “redesigning design.” And, for McDonough, the future is

table 11.8 Normal Climate Data for the Cleveland and Oberlin Region

Jan.

Feb.

Mar.

Apr.

May

June

July

Aug.

Sept.

Oct.

Nov.

Dec.

Year

Degree-Days Heating

1191

1022

859

499

227

50

8

14

106

362

675

1033

6059

Degree-Days Cooling

0

0

1

9

43

152

249

207

88

12

1

0

755

Temperature

Extreme High

73

69

82

88

92

104

100

102

101

89

82

77

104

Normal High

34

36

46

58

69

79

83

81

74

63

50

38

59

Normal Average

27

29

37

49

59

68

73

71

64

54

43

32

51

Normal Low

19

21

28

38

48

58

62

61

54

44

35

25

41

Extreme Low

-20

-15

-5

10

25

31

41

38

34

19

3

-15

-20

Dew Point

19

21

27

37

47

57

61

61

54

43

33

24

40

Humidity

Max % RH

79

79

79

76

77

79

81

85

84

81

78

78

80

Min % RH

70

67

62

56

54

55

55

58

58

58

65

70

61

% Days with Rain

33

30

43

56

56

50

46

46

46

50

50

40

45

Rain Inches

3

2

3

3

4

4

4

3

3

3

3

3

37

Sky

% Overcast Days

74

71

65

57

48

40

35

35

37

45

70

74

54

% Clear Days

10

13

14

18

20

20

23

23

22

23

11

9

17

Wind

Prevailing Direction

SW

SW

SW

S

N

SSW

SW

SW

S

SSW

SW

SW

SW

Speed, Knots

11

11

12

11

8

9

8

7

8

9

11

11

10

Percent Calm

1

2

2

3

4

4

4

5

4

3

1

1

3

Rain

10

9

13

17

17

15

14

14

14

15

15

12

165

Days Observed

Fog

13

12

13

12

13

11

12

14

12

11

12

13

48

Haze

14

14

13

11

13

15

17

19

14

11

11

12

164

Snow

21

17

14

5

#

0

0

0

0

1

9

17

84

Hail

0

0

#

#

#

#

#

#

#

#

#

#

1

Freezing Rain

1

1

#

#

0

0

0

0

0

0

#

#

2

Blowing Sand

#

0

#

#

#

#

#

#

#

#

0

0

#

FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JLY AUG SEP OCT NOV [■HEATING DCOOLING |

JAN

DEC

2000

1800

1600

1400

1200

1000

800

600

400

200

0

0

now. “Conserve, recycle, and reuse” is only a slower dead­end alleyway off the high-speed industrial autobahn into tomorrow. The linear “eco-efficient” measures apply a necessary brake to current patterns of consumption, but they lead only more slowly to the same horizon. “Eco­resource” design, based on the sophistication and abun­dant vitality of nature, requires a completely different road map, one in which nature is mimicked rather than strip – mined. This path leads to both mechanical simplicity and biological complexity. McDonough sees the new road as something like a parkway.

McDonough’s writings are full of these logics. Articles like “The Next Industrial Revolution,” “A Declaration of Independence for the Twin Cities,”“Securing a Sustainable Future,” and “Design, Ecology, Ethics and the Making of Things” (delivered as a sermon, February 7, 1993, at St.

John the Divine in New York City) all convey an insistent message. They reiterate visionary themes of reimaging, of redesigning, and of doing it now. The best-known publi­cation on his vitae is probably still The Hanover Principles: Design for Sustainability (1992) wherein he lays out the basic objectives toward achieving sustainability with such precepts as “Waste is food.”

Intent

The CES agenda began with goals that included the extensive use of sustainable materials and employment of state-of-the art technology. The mission to house the center’s activities was further set by targeting minimal use of nonrenewable energy and other environmental resources. Accounting for the measures of and trade-offs among these elusively com­plicated terms proved to be a major design activity.

Cleveland, Ohio

Dry-Bulb Temperature, °F

Figure 11.30 Bin data distribution for Cleveland. Concentric areas of graph indicate the number of hours per year that weather conditions nor­mally occur in this climate. Similar to elevation readings on topographic maps, highest frequency occurrences of weather are at the center peaks of the graph. (Data sources: Engineering Weather Data, typical meteoro­logical year (TMY) data from the National Climatic Data Center, and the ASHRAE Weather Data Viewer from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.

Most formative, however, was McDonough’s interpre­tation of the pedagogical role of the CES building. Each component of the building would be an intentional illus­tration of his environmental principles. Working dynam­ics among the systems would be exposed and expressed, even digitally monitored in plain view of students and passersby. Design decisions would have to be so visibly obvious that they would become nothing less than instructive.

Another organizing strategy formulated by McDonough was the distinction between two different metabolisms, or “nutrients,” at work in the building. The first was organic; eventually such components would decompose and become food for other organic life. The second category is composed of industrial nutrients that would become recycled feedstock for other products at the end of their useful life. Of course, the pedigrees of both figurative nutrients are as important as their legacies — where they came from was just as much an ecological decision as where they would eventually go. This upstream value system accounted for such things as the embodied energy required to make a construction product, the amount of pollution produced by its manufacture and transportation, the renewable or destructive nature of its harvesting, and so forth. The downstream consequences relied on choices as well, such as using biodegradable or recyclable materials versus producing toxic waste by dumping industrial nutrients into the organic food chain.

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