First LEED Certified Gold School of Architecture New
By: Jackie Schultz - Monday, July 27, 2009

As the first school of architecture in the United States to be certified LEED Gold and the first Pennsylvania State University LEED building, the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA) is a $20 million project completed in 2005 by Overland Partners architects from San Antonio, Texas, WTW Architects and LaQuatra Bonci landscape architects both of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The engineering was performed by Arup, H. F Lenz and Whitney Bailey Cox Magnani. With the purpose of unifying two educational departments at Penn State’s University Park campus, SALA is conceived to embody sustainable design and the collaborative spirit needed for successful professional practice in the future. This 110,000- square foot building houses undergraduate and graduate design studios, faculty offices and research areas, administrative offices , classrooms, library, model shop, design computing labs, model building shop, the Center for Community Design , the Center for Watershed Stewardship , public presentation and gallery space.

The design accommodates the school’s functional requirements in a building that is sculptural, efficient and sustainable. The landscape design uses native planting that requires no landscape watering and integrated storm water management that filters storm water. The building itself addresses its site with two distinct personalities. The northeast fa├žade is contextual, echoing the traditional red brick of surrounding campus structures. The southwest wall consists of flat-seamed, recycled copper. The form and natural patina of this side of the building responds to the organic nature of the adjacent Hort Woods. Exterior sun shading is contoured to each wall orientation to provide glare free day lighting and views that connect occupants to the surrounding landscape. A weather station on the roof monitors wind speed, humidity, temperature and precipitation to signal motorized windows that open automatically for fresh air, reducing the need for air-conditioning. Energy and daylight modeling was used extensively to optimize building envelope design, day lighting, lighting controls and HVAC systems to reduce the building’s carbon footprint. Occupancy, daylight and CO2 sensors automatically adjust HVAC systems and lighting to occupant load and available daylight.

The interior spaces are inspiring and collaborative, yet highly functional, durable and practical. The building’s structural steel frame, concrete floors and acoustical metal deck are exposed to eliminate applied finishes and minimize resource use. Natural maple hard wood, Pennsylvania bluestone flooring, brick interior walls and painted drywall accent walls humanize the industrial aesthetic. The building adapts to seasonal variations, provides flexibility in space configurations and accommodates changes in technology through the extensive use of an exposed concrete raised floor panel system with under floor distribution of HVAC, power and data. Interior functions are designed to spill outside in good weather on to terraced class discussion areas, a wooded reading area, a presentation terrace and a construction work yard. The use of low volatile organic compound (VOC) materials, as well as ventilated spray-booths for using toxic modeling materials ensures indoor air quality. Certified wood, as well as regionally manufactured, recycled and rapidly renewable materials are extensively used.

SALA has been honored with the following awards: AIA Awards of Excellence and Green Building Award Copper in Architecture Award, Brick in Architecture Award, Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Award and PA Landscape Architects President’s Award.

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