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Art Center College of Design, South Campus

The Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies houses the Environmental Studies program at Oberlin College in a 13,600 sf facility with an additional 58,000 sf of ecologically managed landscape. Designed as a teaching tool, the complex includes classrooms, offices, an auditorium, a Living Machine for waste water filtration and recycling, as well as an atrium that is used for receptions, workshops and concerts. Building energy consumption is significantly reduced through the integrated design of passive heating, natural ventilation and daylighting, and is supported by 45 kilowatts of photovoltaic panels on the roof. Critical reviews have identified the daylighting and visual quality of the building as a major success. Even with its popularity as a venue for evening events and classes, the Center has been found to consume over 70 percent less light energy than typical education buildings or other buildings on campus.


Trellis design for south elevation and classrooms Shading masks for atrium trellis design


Loisos + Ubbelohde assisted in developing daylighting and shading designs and glazing alternatives throughout the building. Classrooms are designed to work with daylight during long winter months of overcast skies, as well as on clear sunny days. We used physical models and a mirror-box sky simulator to evaluate the illumination levels and visual comfort in the classrooms, offices and atrium. These studies resulted in a design that reduces the use of electrical lighting and associated cooling loads, works with passive solar heating strategies, improves visual comfort and connects the interior and exterior environments. To this end, classroom glazing works in concert with high, reflective ceilings, pendant lighting with both occupancy and photosensor controls, and light walls and carpeting. Direct sun is controlled by manually operated mini-blinds pending addition of a shading trellis. On the upper floor, classroom ceilings are curved and float over the wall separating the hallway and classroooms, bringing balancing light from the north clerestory. The curved roof continues well past the wall, providing an overhang for shade during summer months. Hallways and stairwells also are daylighted in keeping with the rest of the building. North side faculty offices are light-colored, with the windows adjacent to a side wall, which increases visual comfort and minimizes glare.



Section through classrooms and offices Physical model of classroom in artificial sky

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William McDonough + PartnersLOCATION
Oberlin, OH

Occupied, 1999

The Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Award, 1999

AIA Committee on Architecture for Education Honor Award, 1999

Green Building Challenge Award Winner, 2000

Build Ohio Award, 2000

Build America Award, 2001

AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects, 2002

US Department of Energy 30 Milestone Buildings of the 20th Century

View of living machine.

View of Atrium.