Facing a student enrollment growth of 11 percent, Young Harris College (YHC) in Young Harris, Ga., tasked architectural firm Lord, Aeck & Sargent with designing a residence hall to accommodate the growing campus population. The result is Enotah Hall, a $16-million, 200-bed facility that incorporates a number sustainable attributes.


The 62,500-square-foot, three-story building is the last building to be located on YHC’s historic campus lawn and takes inspiration from its surroundings and the campus’s existing architecture. Capitalizing on the cross slope of the building’s site, the architects created an outdoor amphitheater in a courtyard between two residential wings. A central pavilion connecting the two wings orients the building toward the central green space.


“The building needed to fit into a fairly eclectic mix of existing architecture and be a forward-looking, contemporary structure of its place and time,” says Joe Greco, the building’s principal designer. The structure uses two tones of red brick, pulling from the color range of other campus buildings, while the site walls, planter walls and amphitheater seating are crafted with Tennessee flagstone similar to other landscape wall features on campus.


On the interior, a multi-level lobby is accented by a three-story steel staircase cantilevered from a center plane clad in acrylic patterns. The lobby is framed by two arched walls and a large use of glass permits abundant views to the outdoor. Common areas are spread throughout the building to foster a sense of community and include a second-floor mezzanine that overlooks the lobby, a third-floor common room that opens to a terrace, and a smaller third-floor meeting room. Also included in the building are music practice rooms as well as study rooms at the ends of the corridors in the residence wings. The residential wings are divided into 50 residential suites, each comprising two double-occupancy bedrooms, two bathrooms and a common living space with a kitchenette.


Addressing sustainability, the hall was constructed with regional and recycled materials, FSC-certified wood and low-VOC paints and sealants. The residential wings are oriented so that windows are within 15 degrees of due south or due north to maximize daylight but minimize late afternoon glare. Deep roof overhangs shade the upper terrace, while the curving two-story porch provides coverage at the west-facing curtainwall openings. Rainchains direct water from the terrace into planters at the base of the porch’s columns.


Water-source heat pumps with individual thermostats in each suite address indoor environmental control, and additional heat pumps serve the building’s common areas. A closed water loop serving the mechanical unit passes through 72 geothermal wells, each 400 feet deep, and dissipates heat from the water into the earth. When the system is in cooling mode, heat from the water loop is transferred to the domestic hot water supply through an energy exchanger. An energy recovery unit is used to pre-treat supply air.


“Through our in-house energy modeling capabilities, we were able to demonstrate that the building will perform at 35 percent above the baseline,” says Jackson Kane, a Lord, Aeck, & Sargent associate who served as project manager. “However, the students may actually beat this standard, as they frequently leave the lights off in the corridors and common areas altogether.”


The building, which opened at the beginning of the 2009 fall semester, is targeting Silver LEED certification.