Lehman College students can look forward to a wonderful addition to their campus this year – a new LEED Platinum science building designed by Perkins + Will. The new facility will be a lively ‘campus within a campus’ and will support the school’s role as a gateway to the sciences. The forward-looking design emphasizes biology, and pays close attention to water and daylight with constructed wetlands and a huge greenhouse on the roof.
Phase one of a 3 phase project which will eventually become a 320,000 square foot building. At the center of the space will be an open lab surrounded by a large glass atrium dedicated to both formal and informal gatherings. Adaptable teaching labs and classrooms will make up the rest of the facility.
While tastefully modest in design to play counterpoint to the huge sweep of the neighboring gym by Raphael Viñoly, the building’s design philosophy is about system integration. A substantial state-of-the-art green house will cap the building and have an acrylic roof that captures rainwater, which would then be naturally treated by the wetlands in the center courtyard before being used for toilets and plants. Greywater from sinks will also be treated in the living laboratory wetlands for reuse. Solar thermal panels on the roof will help reduce energy demands and the solar heat captured will then be displayed in the building. Water consumption will also be displayed to let students and faculty get a sense of how the building is operating in real time.
Daylighting is also a central design element with a multistory glass atrium which serves as the main egress through the building and gathering space. While the all-glass corner looks great it’s hard to see how it is beneficial in the summer with the sun beating down on the building and becoming a de facto greenhouse itself.
A radiant floor heating system tied to zone thermostats will provide efficient climate control coupled with operable windows for fresh air and natural cooling. Along with a host of other low-energy devices like efficient lab hoods, occupant sensors and the reuse and introduction of low impact building materials, the building was able to stretch the original plan to achieve LEED Gold and land a Platinum certification well within budget