Credit: Brad Feinknopf
The University of Cincinnati’s (UC) Academic Health Center campus has a new infusion of vibrancy thanks to an innovative addition to a 35-year-old high-rise structure. Providing common areas and updated laboratories was a driving need behind the new 246,000-square-foot Center for Academic and Research Excellence (CARE)/Crawley Building.
The CARE/Crawley Building achieved LEED Gold certification for its green design features. One of the most sustainable aspects of the project is that it allowed the university to retain and leverage the existing 900,000-square-foot Medical Sciences Building (MSB). With its limited box configuration and dated, 1970s laboratories, the MSB’s usefulness was diminishing. To update the facility and expand the amount of common space, the San Francisco office of STUDIOS Architecture, design architect, and the Detroit office of Harley Ellis Devereaux, executive architect, crafted a slender atrium-focused addition around the MSB’s west façade and carved into the existing building to co-mingle the two spaces.
Providing a place for interaction was a primary objective. “This is a very urban campus and we wanted to enhance the quality of life here,” explains Erik Sueberkrop, STUDIOS Architecture design principal. “We looked at the psychology of sustainable environments rather than shear mechanics and worked to create a humanistic place that sustains the soul.”
STUDIOS designed the addition as a town center. In the atrium, students, faculty, and staff enjoy casual meeting places and small study nooks. Adjacent to the towering expanse are office research/teaching laboratories, an auditorium, dining area, library, fitness center, recreational lounge, and support spaces.
The CARE/Crawley addition to the University of Cincinnati’s Medical Sciences Building is the first step in a six-phase expansion and renovation. The addition is positioned on the west side of the existing brick building; they are connected via a new, nine-story atrium, which is positioned not only to bring in a large amount of daylight but also to assist in insulating the existing building. Windows in the new west-facing laboratories of the CARE/Crawley addition are equipped with an adjustable louver system of perforated metal fins
that help control glare and solar heat gain.
Credit: Brad Feinknopf
“Other atria on campus are not populated like this one. Every square inch of this addition counts for something,” says Mary Beth McGrew, associate vice president and university architect at UC. “As soon as it opened, the students spilled out into the areas designed for them and activated the space.”
To blur the lines of old and new, the team cut a two-story opening into the MSB and inserted a new research library between both buildings. Seven glass bridges span the atrium between the two structures. In the CARE/Crawley building, 70,000 square feet of state-of-the-art wet and dry research laboratories on six floors demanded 16-foot heights to accommodate mechanical systems’ flexibility. Because the MSB had only 13-foot floor-to-floor heights, aligning the bridges between floors was challenging but critical in maintaining connections between the two facilities.
Another challenge arose in addressing ventilation in the new building. Laboratories require 100 percent outside air, which is exhausted after one pass through the room, but not all of the spaces of the CARE/Crawley building had this requirement. Rather than treat the entire building in the same way, the design team decided to segment the spaces. The areas that do not need once-through air are handled by different mechanical systems to conserve energy.
In the atrium, automatically controlled windows on the first and second floors open electronically with a pneumatic system to let in fresh air. Relief vents at the top open to create a chimney stack, drawing the air upward and out of the building for natural ventilation and cooling of the space. By covering the west façade of the MSB, the atrium helps insulate that building as well. The atrium glass is a high-quality glazing that prevents thermal gain but permits light to flood in. A series of large west-facing perforated metal fins provide an interior louver system that occupants can adjust to guard against excessive solar heat and glare.
Credit: Brad Feinknopf
To foster interaction between the multiple departments housed in the facility, the architects crafted various spots that encourage collaboration. The most dominant of these spaces is the atrium, which features a natural ventilation plan designed to reduce energy use. Adjacent to this common area, the design team cut a two-story opening into the older building to create a research library, whose curved windows look out on to the atrium. On higher floors, the facility mixes wet and dry research laboratories, administrative offices, dining areas, an auditorium,
a fitness center, and other support spaces.
Laboratory room exhaust is directed to a regenerative heat wheel that rotates between the exhaust and supply air streams. Fume hoods have variable-drive volume fans, and hood exhaust goes to a ducted heat pipe energy recovery system that captures energy generated by the exhaust air and uses that energy to condition the supply air. This process takes place inside a sealed piping system to eliminate the potential for cross-contamination between the two airstreams.
The atrium’s natural ventilation combined with efficient fluorescent indoor lighting systems and LED exterior lighting helps the CARE/Crawley building save nearly 31 percent of energy compared with ASHRAE 90.1 1999 standards, says Harley Ellis Devereaux principal Lou Hartman. The systems are predicted to save the university an average of $200,000 a year in energy costs.
Runoff from the buildings and exterior hardscape areas flows into an on-site stormwater detention basin and is used for irrigation. Cincinnati has a humid environment, so UC also opted to capture 1 million gallons of condensation that comes off the cooling coils in summer and direct it to the cistern.
The completion of the $177 million CARE/Crawley building in August 2008 was the first of six phases for the full project. In subsequent phases, the MSB will undergo a significant mechanical/electrical retrofit. Consolidating the number of air handlers by half and exhaust fans by one-third will add efficiency, and UC plans to install runaround heat recovery systems and variable air volume fans in all existing laboratories as well. Phase one, however, already is a success: By updating the MSB and providing new labs and spaces for people to interact and generate ideas, the project is helping the university maintain its standing as one of the leading academic health centers in the nation.
KJ Fields writes about architecture and sustainability from Portland, Ore.
Design architect, interior designer: STUDIOS Architecture, www.studiosarchitecture.com
Architect of record, civil engineer: Harley Ellis Devereaux, www.harleyellis.com
Client/owner: University of Cincinnati, www.uc.edu
Mechanical engineer, electrical engineer: Affiliated Engineers, www.aeieng.com
Structural engineers: Harley Ellis Devereaux; Novum Structures, www.novumstructures.com
Geotechnical engineer: H. C. Nutting, www.hcnutting.com
General contractor: The Dick Corp., www.dckww.com
Landscape architect: Hargreaves Associates, www.hargreaves.com
Lighting designer: Auerbach Glasow French, www.auerbachconsultants.com
Lab consultants: GPR Lab Planners Collaborative (now Jacobs Consultancy), www.jacobsconsultancy.com
MaterialsAdhesives, coatings, and sealants
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: Darkrooms USA
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Laboratory fixtures and furnishings
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: Contractor Materials Co.
: Atlas; Charlotte Pipe & Foundry, www.charlottepipe.com
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: ICI Paints, www.icipaints.comPiping
: Hanson Pipe & Precast; Harrington Industrial Plastics, www.harringtonplastics.com
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: A•Lok Gaskets, www.a-lok.com
; Gate City Steel, www.gatecitysteel.com
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: Bzak Landscaping, www.bzak.com
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