A unique design project implemented by Stevens & Wilkinson Stang & Newdow, Inc. for Kennesaw State University’s new Social Science classroom building has not only been well received by both faculty and students, but has also achieved Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design; there are four levels – Certified, Silver, Gold, Platinum) certification. Stevens & Wilkinson Principal Bill Clark, AIA, LEED AP, made the announcement.
Kennesaw State University, established in 1963, is located in Cobb County on a landscaped 240-acre campus and is the third-largest university in the state, with more than 20,000 students (1,700 from overseas). The campus is about 35 miles northwest of downtown Atlanta.
The five-story, 164,000 square-foot classroom building houses more than 40 classrooms and office space for five academic departments (Communications, History & Philosophy, Political Science & International Affairs, Psychology, and Sociology) within the College of Social Science. Interior spaces include a 300-seat auditorium, 110-seat film classroom and a large indoor student plaza with access to an exterior covered porch.
Previously the classrooms and offices for the Social Sciences were housed in different buildings across campus minimizing collegial interaction between students and faculty. The new building has consolidated the classrooms, and departmental and faculty offices into one central teaching facility.
LEED-certified buildings have demonstrated energy conservation and address concerns for site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. The Social Science classroom building achieved Silver LEED Certification after complying with requirements of the LEED Green Building Rating Systems, a nationally accepted benchmark established by the U.S. Green Building Council.
“The facility is not only visually appealing, but also energy and water usage/costs are significantly reduced and it’s an overall healthier interior environment for both students and faculty,” Clark said.
“Sustainability has become an important feature in any academic setting,” said KSU Assistant Vice President for Facilities John Anderson. “Having a LEED-certified facility has had a positive impact on the local community and reinforces the message that our university has a vested interest in creating environmentally-friendly buildings.”
The exterior palette was designed to blend in with the surrounding environment and buildings. One innovative design feature was developing comfortable student study areas on the north and south sides of the building – normally the kind of space that is classified as unassigned circulation space. The university, however, wanted this space developed to foster a collegiate atmosphere where students and faculty could interact other than in a classroom.
There are several large (+1,100 square feet) departmental research centers in the building designated for various long-term research projects (18-36 months). Classroom furniture is flexible and modular and conducive for group projects and discussion. Most classrooms also have wireless technology.
Clark added that the auditorium was also unique due to its horseshoe shape which allows for 175 fixed seats and another 125 loose seats on a flat floor that can be utilized for other purposes besides seating, e.g., exhibits, student job fairs, mock trials and small performing groups. Continue reading