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Adding Glass Aesthetics

A New Jersey community college recently used exterior glass to change the appearance of its campus while efficiently consuming energy.

The Raritan Valley Community College’s new Ray Bateman Center for Student Life and Leadership offers its occupants expansive views of their surroundings at the Branchburg site, but the exterior glass will also limit the three-story, 24,000-square foot building’s energy needs. Occupancy lighting was also installed to conserve electricity.

 “We want more glass to bring the outside in,” John Trojan, vice president for finance and facilities, tells AS&U.

It’s a respite from the state community college’s drab, nondescript buildings with few windows that were built quickly several decades ago, Trojan notes. The college, drawn to the aesthetic and utilitarian qualities of glass, tries to prominently incorporate exterior glass in construction projects when possible, he says.

The $5.8 million project also included a “living wall” with 13 plant species that will help filter the ambient air inside the center. The living wall, as well as some of the center’s plumbing fixtures, uses a 4,000-gallon tank that captures rainwater. Kelly Mac Interiorscapes of Pittstown, N.J., designed and installed the wall, which is visible from the outside.

The center was built as a “flexible learning space,” according to a press release from the college, and it includes office space for student groups, conference rooms, small study areas, student workstations and other gathering and networking spaces for students. There’s also a small kitchen.

The college is seeking LEED gold certification for the project, which was funded through a public-private partnership. 

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