Featured Project - Lane Community College

Exemplifying Healthy and Sustainable Architecture

The slogan of Oregon's Lane Community College in Eugene is 'Transforming lives through learning.' With its latest addition, a generous teaching tract for health care studies, the college shows how the learning environment itself can become educational. The new building, hosting ten classrooms, several casual study areas, and 37 faculty offices, was to be exemplary in healthy and sustainable architecture. Lane Community College commissioned the west coast-based SRG Partnership with the task, an architectural firm founded in 1972 with offices in Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco.

The structure the architects designed consists of three rectangular blocks arranged to form a variety of open spaces. The two smaller units contain the offices, while the larger one hosts the classrooms. The arrangement of the three blocks created dynamic working spaces and niches for the students within the hallways.

100% Naturally Ventilated Facilities

The big challenge, however, was to create completely naturally ventilated facilities. Project architect Paul Waters explains how this was achieved. "The entire building breathes. There's an open space serving as a 'lung', which runs the full height and length of the classroom block and supplies the classrooms with fresh air and light." The skylight at the lung's apex has motorized windows, which operate in accordance with the classroom windows, thus controlling temperature and the necessary fresh air supply. Translucent automatic shades below the glass of the skylight modulate the sunlight. Additional skylights over the stairs and the central study space, together with translucent walls, allow the light to filter into the adjoining classrooms and offices.

The various rooms were carefully placed according to their use. To avoid direct sunlight in the classrooms, for instance, they face north, thereby profiting from generous views of the forested hills nearby. The windows of the south and west facing offices, in contrast, were equipped with light shelves and additional blinds.

Green Architecture within a Modest Construction Budget

On the outside, the building was clad in light grey Swisspearl® panels, laid vertically on the classroom block and horizontally on the two office blocks. Here exposed rivets make for a livelier façade facing the campus. The new complex was linked to the existing facilities by elevated wooden boardwalks and a covered bridge. Eugene’s annual 140 days of rain were put to good use as well. The rainwater is collected and feeds the planters that encircle the new building.

With help of the local climate and weather, the architects managed to create a non-air-conditioned, naturally ventilated building within a modest construction budget, fulfilling the college's requirements for green architecture as well as modern, spacious teaching facilities.

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