Page 1

Greer Environmental Sciences Center Virginia Wesleyan University


2

G reer Enviro nmen t a l Sc ie n ce s Ce n t e r V irg in ia Wes leya n U n i vers i ty


Gre e r E nv i ro nm e ntal S c i e nce s C e nt e r V i rgi n i a Wes leya n Un i ve rsi ty

3


4

G reer Enviro nmen t a l Sc ie n ce s Ce n t e r V irg in ia Wes leya n U n i vers i ty


Gre e r E nv i ro nm e ntal S c i e nce s C e nt e r V i rgi n i a Wes leya n Un i ve rsi ty

Bring a Spark Light a Fire The Greer Environmental Sciences Center elevates Virginia Wesleyan University’s commitment to environmental sustainability and advocacy for a thriving, crossdisciplinary sciences program. Occupying the last building location on the university’s main quad, the Center acts as a portal for students traversing campus – connecting them to the building’s dynamic program and natural context through a series of transparent layers and pathways brimming with native flora and fauna. Designed to honor former President Greer’s commitment to environmental sustainability, the building creates an inspiring sense of place that sets a new standard for how the built environment can facilitate hands-on learning opportunities, catalyze regional research partnerships, and raise the caliber of campus planning and design for a small liberal arts university. Programmed for a range of uses – from research involving a variety of indoor and outdoor lab spaces, to seminars taught in four distinct active learning classrooms, to public forums hosted in the lobby or on the front steps – the Greer Center supports the university’s liberal arts mission to engage a diversity of students in applied learning experiences. Each programmatic adjacency was intentionally designed to maximize overlaps and personalize connections between students and faculty, curriculum and research, and local and global perspectives on stewardship and care for the environment.

5


6

G reer Enviro nmen t a l Sc ie n ce s Ce n t e r V irg in ia Wes leya n U n i vers i ty


Gre e r E nv i ro nm e ntal S c i e nce s C e nt e r V i rgi n i a Wes leya n Un i ve rsi ty

7


Program Spaces

2

Active Learning Classrooms 3

Core Educational Labs

1

Research + Support Spaces Faculty Offices Collaborative Study Rooms

Sustainable Design Features 8

6

5

7 8

Vegetated Roof

2

Photovoltaic Panels

3

Rainwater Channel

4

Reclaimed Cypress

5

Filtered Fume Hoods

6

Low-Flow Fixtures

7

LED Lighting

8

Optimized Daylighting

9

Bald Cypress Grove

10

Pollinator Meadow

11

High Performance Envelope

12

Enthalpy Wheel

13

Stormwater Demo Garden

14

Wetland Garden

15

Ground Source Heat Exchange

N

4

1

25’

50’

100’

B 10

9

11

pus Camalk W

12

13

15 A 14


Gre e r E nv i ro nm e ntal S c i e nce s C e nt e r V i rgi n i a Wes leya n Un i ve rsi ty

9

A

B


10

G reer Enviro nmen t a l Sc ie n ce s Ce n t e r V irg in ia Wes leya n U n i vers i ty

Rooted in Place Anchoring the University’s main quadrangle on the boundary between academic and residential districts, the Greer Environmental Sciences Center acts as a gateway to the sciences and to the campus itself. The building creates an inspiring sense of place that offers a welcoming entry-point to the sciences and invites the university community and regional partners to study local ecology through immediatelyaccessible, hands-on opportunities. In addition to spatial and visual connections between the building and its landscape, the Center connects students to their local ecology in a number of ways: •

Rainwater collected from the green roof is deliberately and visibly channeled to the north plaza through a series of basins, thereby activating the area during rain events and emphasizing the site’s connection to the watershed.

Vegetated bioretention basins and constructed wetlands treat stormwater on-site in inventive and engaging ways that facilitate student and faculty research.

Environmental graphics throughout the building and landscape teach occupants about their location within the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the regional ecosystems’ native flora and fauna.

Native plantings emulate local ecosystems and create habitat for wildlife.

These design features are holistically intertwined with the Center’s pedagogical mission to connect students to their purpose as stewards of their campus and its broader environmental context.


Gre e r E nv i ro nm e ntal S c i e nce s C e nt e r V i rgi n i a Wes leya n Un i ve rsi ty

11


12

G reer Enviro nmen t a l Sc ie n ce s Ce n t e r V irg in ia Wes leya n U n i vers i ty


Gre e r E nv i ro nm e ntal S c i e nce s C e nt e r V i rgi n i a Wes leya n Un i ve rsi ty

An Immersive Learning Environment The Greer Center creates an immersive science experience for everyone on campus, not just science majors. Within the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, all fields participated in the planning of the building. “Interdisciplinary courses and collaboration are the hallmark of our success,” explains the Dean. “Every success we’ve had has come about through the incredible cooperation between our environmental sciences, biology, and chemistry departments.” The design stacks and centers the teaching labs within the building – and ties wayfinding, programmatic adjacencies, and visual proximities to the lab experience through fullyglazed quad-facing walls that put science on display for the community. Instead of being tied to specific departments, the four teaching labs are organized thematically around the Earth’s four spheres (atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere) and provide spaces for advanced studies in Atmospheric Chemistry, Oceanography, Analytical Chemistry, Ecology, Marine Science, Earth Science, and Hydrology. Carefully orchestrated transparency between key spaces allows students and faculty – whether in the lobby, a lab, an office, or even outdoors – to be connected to each other and to the life of the building. The four main teaching labs are complemented by four active learning classrooms and a mix of formal and informal study spaces that are accessible to science and non-science majors alike. Teaching labs and advanced research areas such as the Chesapeake Bay Fish Lab and Trace Metal Analysis Lab were designed as part of a holistic neighborhood fully integrated with accessible faculty offices, general use classrooms, and public interaction areas. The building extends beyond its footprint to promote a campus culture of lifelong collaboration and interdisciplinary research.

13


“T he building elements that are most important to me are the ones that allow us to teach our students about sustainability and stewardship of the earth.�

D r. M aynard S c h au s A s s oc ia t e P rovos t a n d P ro fe s s o r o f B i o lo g y V irgin ia We s le yan U ni ve rs i t y


16

G reer Enviro nmen t a l Sc ie n ce s Ce n t e r V irg in ia Wes leya n U n i vers i ty

A Building That Teaches The project’s planning and programming efforts support projected growth in the natural sciences while celebrating interdisciplinary collaboration, hands-on learning, and place-based research – key tenants of the university’s academic mission. Interdisciplinary Research With clusters of diverse, dedicated research laboratories and a central, light-filled “street” connecting faculty offices and lab spaces, the building encourages a culture of interdisciplinary research, publication, and instruction. Specific building features tie to a range of courses, faculty projects, and research collaborations. For instance, Dr. Bartol’s Chesapeake Bay Fish Lab, visually and physically connected to her Marine Biology teaching lab, studies marine organisms and water samples collected from a research vessel jointed used by the university and the Virginia Aquarium. Hands-On Learning The building’s design has inspired student and faculty research. Flow meters installed in stormwater drain pipes allow students to compare runoff rates and examine mercury levels in the stormwater ponds. Micrometeorites that fall on the green roof are analyzed with the electron microscope. And the Energy and Environment course uses data from the building dashboard to track the building’s energy efficiency. These investigations have led to larger collaborative research efforts and several successful grant submittals. Place-Based Research The building has helped catapult collaborative research efforts related to the building’s role in the stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay. By tying the building to its coastal context, the Center projects its influence beyond the boundaries of the campus to connect to global dialogues about resilience and eco-citizenship for a more sustainable world.


Gre e r E nv i ro nm e ntal S c i e nce s C e nt e r V i rgi n i a Wes leya n Un i ve rsi ty

17


18

G reer Enviro nmen t a l Sc ie n ce s Ce n t e r V irg in ia Wes leya n U n i vers i ty


Gre e r E nv i ro nm e ntal S c i e nce s C e nt e r V i rgi n i a Wes leya n Un i ve rsi ty

Modeling Stewardship The LEED Gold Center teaches important principles of environmental stewardship related to the interconnection of natural systems, the importance of caring for local watersheds, and the responsibility to combat climate change. Strategies that conserve energy, water, and material resources include: •

A ground source heat exchange system for heating, cooling, and domestic hot water

An enthalpy wheel that recovers heat from exhaust air in the winter, and dehumidifies incoming ventilation air in the summer

Passive design strategies for energy conservation including proper building orientation, shading, and a high performance building envelope

Optimized daylighting complemented by LED electric lighting designed to protect the night sky

Filtered fume hoods that clean and recirculate air in labs, conserving energy

A vegetated “green” roof

A photovoltaic array that feeds carbon-free power into the building

Low-flow fixtures and waterless urinals, which use 40% less water compared to conventional systems

Use of “sinker cypress” – timber reclaimed from the bottom of the Mississippi River – on both the exterior and interior public spaces of the building

19


VMDO Architects vmdo.com | 434.296.5684 200 E Market St Charlottesville, VA 22902 1200 18th Street NW Suite 700 Washington, DC 20036

For more information about the Greer Environmental Sciences Center, please contact: Joe Atkins, AIA, LEED AP BD+C atkins@vmdo.com Dade Van Der Werf, AIA, LEED AP BD+C vanderwerf@vmdo.com

Profile for VMDO Architects

Virginia Wesleyan University Greer Environmental Sciences Center  

Virginia Wesleyan University Greer Environmental Sciences Center