Text description provided by the architects. The design for Davis Hall establishes a hybrid functional typology that creates a collaborative / interactive environment among electrical engineering and computer science disciplines. The building creates a new focal point for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, consolidating functions from seven different existing locations and completing the composition of a series of late 1970’s Marcel Breuer buildings.
A prominent copper-colored volume thrusts outward to announce a new ‘Front Door’ for the School of Engineering, which was previously located along a service roadway. The building is organized around a multi-story gallery which facilitates pedestrian traffic into the existing campus, creates an interactive educational / research environment, and which culminates in a multi-story student lounge that activates a new courtyard shared with the Breuer buildings. The building is planned on a highly flexible and adaptable grid to allow for flexibility as technology and teaching pedagogies evolve . The western edge of the building creates an activated outdoor gallery to shelters students as they move into the campus.
The new building is tracking LEED Gold and currently improves overall energy performance 33.8% above the baseline ASHRAE 90.1-2004 standard requirements. Specific features of the sustainability approach include: Improved Building Shell Insulation, High-performance windows, Energy efficient lighting design with occupancy and photosensor control, Dedicated outdoor air handling unit with chilled beam cooling for administrative and office areas, Variable volume fume hood airflow control with proximity sensor controls, Reduced air handling system static pressure drops using oversized ductwork and reduced face velocities across air handling unit components, Energy recovery and demand controlled ventilation (DCV). Taken as a whole, the up-to-date SEAS building greatly improves the engineering and university communities as well as decreasing impact on the surrounding environment.
Perkins+Will concentrated on the primary concepts of connectedness and collaboration in the design of the building, which is planned as two separate and functionally distinct blocks for "computational" and "hardware" research that are joined by a glass-enclosed, multi-story gallery. Facing the south, the glass gallery is a daylight-filled science commons that includes open staircases that allow for spontaneous student and staff interaction. It also comprises a series of inter locking volumes that include windows into laboratories for the active display of technological research. Throughout the building, cross-disciplinary zones are distributed for informal gathering spaces equipped with SMART Boards.
The building organizes the SEAS program to create a new identity for both the school and the campus by defining a new quadrangle that gathers student / faculty activity and establishes a single exterior and interior focal point. Pedestrian circulation through the campus is physically enhanced, and activated with program elements that communicate research efforts and promote recent discoveries. By defining a new ‘front door’ along the outer White Road address, the building has initiated a new phase of growth and identity for the campus as a whole.