Green challenges | Danforth University Center at Washington University

Green challenges | Danforth University Center at Washington University

The 115,880-square-foot Danforth University Center at Washington University, St. Louis, has achieved LEED gold certification. The three-story center, completed last July, houses WUTV-TV, Student Life newspaper, the student union, student and faculty dining areas, conference rooms, campus-life offices, a game room and a common area. It also offers three outdoor courtyards and plazas.

Built over a three-story 520-car parking garage, the $43 million center features reinforced concrete with a granite stone facade, complementing the Collegiate Gothic architecture displayed throughout campus.

As designs for the center began, the university's four-story Central Underground Garage was simultaneously in final stages of construction. The plans called for the center to be built above the garage, minimizing effects on the landscape and maintaining the best use of space.

The project was designed to receive LEED certification, but with great effort from all team members, the project jumped from certified to gold standard. Although the upgrades to gain LEED points were significant, the changes were managed precisely to maintain the original schedule and budget. One major upgrade was the addition of a 50,000-gallon underground rainwater-harvesting storage tank on the project site. The water from this system is used for landscape irrigation.

Other changes included rapidly renewable resources in place of other resources, such as wool instead of nylon for carpet, bamboo instead of oak, and an increased amount of linoleum overall; and daylight harvesting through the installation of sensors that track the amount of natural light in a room.

The architect is TSOI/Kobis & Associates (Cambridge, Mass.); Clayco Inc. (St. Louis) was design-builder.

Completion: July 2008
Cost: $43 million
Project area: 115,880 sq. ft.

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