With two new buildings earning LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the University of Connecticut at Storrs, Conn., is injecting fresh energy into the center of campus. Both buildings echo the brick-and-copper elements of the older historic buildings while bringing the campus up to date with flexible classroom space, safer walkways, and exterior courtyard spaces that invite connection and collaboration.
In 2004, the university started planning to replace two outdated campus buildings. These buildings had provided substantial general classroom space on campus, as well as departmental space for the social sciences and humanities. When completed later this year, the new Social Sciences and Classroom buildings—formerly the East and West buildings, respectively—together will house five academic departments and 40 learning spaces, ranging from 200- and 400-seat lecture halls to smaller classrooms and seminar spaces. Copper walls and copper-lined courtyards will unify the two buildings and provide aesthetic appeal for the University of Connecticut faculty, staff, and students.
Plan Comes Together
Boston architectural firm Leers Weinzapfel Associates was tasked with designing two high-volume buildings for the dense central campus area. “Together, the two buildings are around 200,000 square feet—that’s a lot of volume to locate in the center of campus,” says Jane Weinzapfel, principal at the firm. “Our challenges were how to locate them in a way to support campus master-planning objectives, and to ensure the scale of buildings are appropriate to their context.”
Safety concerns also affected the design of the new campus buildings. Previously, a walking path between the Homer Babbidge Library and the former social sciences building intersected the library’s front-loading area. The designers moved the path closer to the Social Sciences Building so that pedestrians only have to cross a single truck roadway to the south of the new building. A new stop sign further increases pedestrian safety.