As part of a larger redevelopment project for Rice University in Houston, Texas, two new LEED gold-certified college dorms were built to house 650 students. The McMurtry College and Duncan College dormitory buildings each stand five stories tall and contain their own dining hall. As a way to achieve economies of scale and an economical design, Hopkins Architects worked with Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas to design prefabricated bathroom pods, which featured plug-and-play connections to hook them into the building's utilities. These pod bathrooms help reduce waste and they are more energy-efficient than standard facilities.
The new dormitories expanded the undergraduate accommodations by 30% back in 2009. The dorms are built around a shared commons and linked by a shaded arcade. Each building has its own dining facility – McMurtry’s is circular with a roof lantern, and Duncan’s is rectangular with tree-shaped structural columns. Rice University is made up mostly of finely detailed brick buildings, and the two new dorms were no exception. The layout, facades and materials all echo the character of the existing campus in an attempt to extend this continuity. But just because the building’s look the same doesn’t mean they are built the same – both McMurtry College and Duncan College were designed with energy efficiency and sustainability in mind. Each dorm achieved LEED Gold, beating the campus-wide mandate of LEED Silver-certified buildings.
Both buildings feature a green roof to support plant life and provide natural habitat for birds and insects. Innovative building systems, like HVAC infrared room sensors, help reduce energy use wherever possible. Each of the 400 rooms is equipped with a energy-efficient prefabricated bathroom pod designed for two roommates. Pods feature an outer cladding, a cast Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) 6’ x 8’ interior with all white walls, wall-hung plumbing fixtures, and light fixtures. When the building was partially completed, the pods were inserted into their spots and plugged into the plumbing and electrical connections. Because they were built off-site, the quality of construction was held to a high standard, and this allowed the school to have more energy and water-efficient units.
Images ©Robert Benson Photography