Roosevelt University Goes ‘Green’ with New Student Center

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

By Jessica Tobacman

Roosevelt University has begun plans for a new student center, incorporating a new eco-friendly edge into their design. The lobby of the university’s Auditorium Building currently houses a model that includes this structure and an artistic rendering of the institution’s new project. Located at 421 to 425 S. Wabash Ave., the Wabash Development Project is scheduled to be completed for the 2011-2012 academic year.

The new building is designed to serve three main functions: academics and administrative space, student life, and dorm areas. It will be used as an academic space primarily, with chemistry, biology and physics labs. The building will also house the Walter E. Heller College of Business, an advising center with dean and faculty offices. The new structure will also be used as a student union, bookstore, food court, gymnasium and workout area. This area will include meeting space for student groups and more conveniently located registration, financial aid, admissions, and Bursar’s offices. The building will feature a residence hall with 600 beds for undergraduate and graduate students.
The project includes plans to tear down the Herman Crown Center, which is located at 425 S. Wabash Ave., to make room for the new building. 300 of the 600 new beds for students will replace those that previously existed in the Herman Crown Center. Faculty and administrators have helped to design the Wabash Development Project, which will interconnect with the adjacent Auditorium Theatre in several places.

Energy efficiency is a goal for the new building. Charles R. Middleton, Ph.D., president of Roosevelt University, said that the university will apply for LEED® Silver Certification. To achieve this Silver standard, the Wabash Development Project must score a minimum of 50 out of a total of 100 points under the new LEED® Rating System. The project is graded in categories including sustainability of the building site, water and energy efficiency, materials and resources used in construction and operations, indoor air quality, location in the community, and awareness and education of those who will use the building. Roosevelt University’s plans to obtain the LEED® Silver level include installing low-flow plumbing fixtures, green terraces with outdoor rooftops and trees, energy-efficient heating and air-conditioning, and lights with motion sensors. Aiming for LEED® Silver level will help to maintain low operational costs and to reduce energy usage by 10 to 20 percent, Middleton said. The university has retained Jim Vallort of Environmental Systems Design as its independent Commissiong Agent. According to the LEED® for New Construction and Major Renovations 2009 Rating System, Vallort must review and oversee the completion of the commissioning process activities. Middleton also said that the building permit for the project will be applied for through the City of Chicago Green Permit Program.

Another innovative aspect of the new student center is that the outside of the building will be completely made of glass. This will greatly reduce electricity usage and allow in a large amount of light.
“This reflects the 21st century openness of society, and is a public expression of the values of the university and the transparency of the environment,” Middleton said.
On every two or three floors, the university will provide areas to relax, with tables and chairs and wireless access internet. The University president added that the new student center will be, essentially, a vertical campus.
“It will take the version of a campus in a smaller town or rural area, and stack it vertically.”
To limit the energy consumption of the building, the design incorporates high-performance glazing for the windows, and high-efficiency chillers and boilers for cooling and heating. The new building will also have a combined, efficient mechanical heating and air-conditioning system, designed to conserve space and energy as it ventilates and cools the building. It will also use highly efficient condensing boilers to decrease energy costs by using less gas. The finished building will contain laboratory exhaust systems that decrease energy usage when hoods are inactive.
“The systems have been selected based on proven technologies which have been in use for a number of years to ensure reliability,” said Robert Tazelaar, PE, LEED-AP, the mechanical engineer for the project, of WMA Consulting Engineers, Ltd. “However, the system design has been implemented in a manner which takes advantage of recent advancements in equipment design and efficiency. They have proven to be effective at maintaining comfort conditions in the past.”
Dave Eckmann, PE, SE, of Magnusson Klemencic Associates, is the structural engineer for the Wabash Development Project.
The City Council will vote in the next few months on whether to authorize the construction project, Middleton said. Roosevelt University already has the support of the Plan Commission, the Chicago Loop Alliance and multiple civic groups. Although Roosevelt University will preserve the historic façade of the Fine Arts Annex, it does not yet have the backing of the Landmark Commission, a private agency. The new University center will raise the residential capacity of the school by 300, to more than 700 out of Roosevelt’s 7,700 students.
“The project will help continue to support the growth of higher education in the city center and the South Loop,” the University President said. “It changes the dynamic of downtown and the neighborhood. It’s a win-win-win, especially for the students.”

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