Text description provided by the architects. The University wanted a learning center shared by eight departments for their ecology curriculum that has exemplary environmental performance and conserves the 55-acre Nature Preserve site. In response, we minimized the built area by creating an outdoor classroom and one open classroom indoors. We located an assembly of elements at the boundary between the University and the Preserve. This created a gateway to the Preserve and gathering spaces for learning without impacting the pristine environment.
The outdoor classroom is created by the paved area defined by the fireplace, wood storage and reclaimed wood benches. The indoor classroom is a rhythm of exposed recycled timber structure punctuated by large openings to the South that create the connection between the outdoor class-room and indoor space. The East and West facades have large operable windows that naturally ventilate the space. The North form is an armature for renewable energy generation and stack ventilation.
The Classroom building has been awarded the 2012 COTE Top-Ten Award and is a LEED Platinum certified building. Since its opening the structure has exceeded environmental performance and design goals. The space has become a favorite outdoor-indoor gathering space for students and the University for impromptu gatherings and formal events.