UMD’s Swenson Civil Engineering Building Makes AIA’s Top Ten Green List

By KBJR News

Credit: Kate Joyce Studios

UMD’s Swenson Civil Engineering Building Makes AIA’s Top Ten Green List

April 25, 2013 Updated Apr 25, 2013 at 1:01 PM CDT

DULUTH, Minn. (NNCNOW.com) -- The American Institute of Architects and its Committee on the Environment have selected the University of Minnesota Duluth Swenson Civil Engineering Building for a significant honor.

According to a news release issued Thursday:

The building is included in the AIA’s top ten examples of sustainable architecture and green design solutions that protect and enhance the environment.

The COTE Top Ten Green Projects program, now in its 17th year, is the profession's best-known recognition program for sustainable design excellence. Reed Construction Data and Building Green are sponsors of the program.

James P. Riehl, dean of the Swenson College of Science and Engineering, said, “This building has great aesthetics and it serves the students’ needs. With the generous support of Jim and Susan Swenson, we were able to achieve our goal of incorporating environmentally responsible design.”

James I. Swenson ('59 Chemistry UMD) and his wife, Susan, contributed to the construction of the Swenson Civil Engineering Building and the Swenson Science Building, as well as supporting science and research program scholarships and fellowships at UMD since 1994.

The COTE Top Ten Green Projects program celebrates structures that use a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems, and technology to provide architectural solutions, which protect and enhance the environment. Entries are examined in regard to their design and innovation, integration with their community, land use and effect on site ecology, bioclimatic design, energy and water use, approach to light and air, materials and construction, long-life considerations, and feedback loops.

This year’s Top Ten Green Projects include a range of project types, such as single and multifamily housing, education projects, mixed-use community projects, office spaces, and government projects.

UMD’s Swenson Civil Engineering Building was designed to display systems as a teaching tool. The building showcases structural and mechanical processes and storm water management techniques. It acts as a working classroom where design plays an integral educational role, and civil engineering processes are illuminated. The building overtly exposes sustainable systems and materials. Storm water is directed from the roof to three scuppers and into above ground cylinders filled with rocks for filtering.

The two-story structure is wrapped around double-height laboratories. The building houses for 35,300 square-feet of space for instructional, research, and administrative functions. Spaces include faculty offices, student workspaces, classrooms, and centrally located structural and hydraulics laboratories.

The project team successfully designed a building that seamlessly engages the adjacent structure, reinforces existing circulation patterns, and mediates grade changes.

Sustainable strategies were incorporated into the design process and aesthetics. The University and State required that the building meet LEED Silver standards. The University encouraged incorporation of sustainable principles to foster development of civil engineers as responsible environmental stewards. The final design achieved LEED Gold certification, coming within four points of Platinum.