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Green architecture – UC Irvine Humanities Gateway building

By Damir Beciri
One Comment25 December 2011

uc-irvine-humanities-gateway-building-1UC Irvine Humanities Gateway building has been awarded LEED Platinum certification for its sustainability, scoring 5 points above the minimum requirement for that status by earning 57 points (out of a possible 69 points). Supporting the School’s endeavor to encourage global citizenship in its students, the building provides an inspiring example for students, architects and the public for promoting sustainability in design.

“The designers masterfully integrated the Gateway Humanities Building into the heart of our campus. We gave them a challenging vision to create ‘a sense of unforeseen possibilities.’ What they achieved surpassed our expectations. This innovative and sustainable building will be appreciated for years to come”, said Rebekah Gladson, FAIA, Associate Vice Chancellor and Campus Architect.

Designed by Fentress Architects and built by Hensel Phelps Construction Company, the University of California 7,060 square-meter (76,000 square-foot) building’s split persona was inspired by Janus –two-faced god of mythological literature with the gift of vision into both past and future. Fentress Architects’ design honors the master plan created by architect William Pereira while incorporating highly innovative and effective sustainable features.

A signature gateway to the School of Humanities is the fifth building in the Humanities quad on the site just opposite the Humanities Instructional Building. On one side of the building, a thoughtful, formal façade reflects the school’s context with a design in harmony with the campus’ existing architecture. On the opposing courtyard side, the building expresses a more organic, free-flowing design. The curvy, crystalline wall is four stories tall, and it is built with glass panels in four different widths installed in a random manner.

The low E glass and metal wall system spans the building façade from floor to ceiling on all four levels, providing abundance of daylight and minimizing the need for energy consumption. Additional natural daylight in the center of the building is ensured by three-story light wells that penetrate the building upward to the sky. Outdoor views are available from 90 percent of the occupied space.

Occupancy sensors are installed in order to lower the consumption needed for lighting and HVAC. The building features California Cool Roof – a system of reflective coatings that minimize heat reflected into the atmosphere.

The mechanical system incorporates 100% outside air economizers and variable flow fans to maximize energy efficiency. Mechanical and plumbing systems exceed Title 24 requirements. The design team created mechanical spaces for custom-built air handlers to maximize serviceability for all primary components.

Instead hydraulic elevators, the building has machine room-less elevators (MRLs). The new MRL elevators are energy efficient because the technology relies on smaller motors. Smaller motors also downsize the necessary power supply and enable the elevators to run without a machine room.

The constructors used 40% regional materials to save on fuel included in shipping costs. In order to save on water heating costs, they decided to remove the hot water requirements in the lavatories. Instead, the building is integrated with UCI’s efficient central plant to produce chilled water and heated water, while chilling and storing for use during the day.

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    Interesting form, but I don’t like the interior because it doesn’t look light enough,

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