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Studio 804's Galileo's Pavilion earns LEED Platinum rating

Thursday, August 15, 2013

LAWRENCE — The U.S. Green Building Council announced earlier this month that Galileo’s Pavilion, a sustainable classroom building designed and built by the Department of Architecture’s Studio 804, has earned an LEED Platinum designation.

The building is located on the Johnson County Community College campus in Overland Park and was dedicated in spring 2012. Studio 804 is a graduate-level design-build class taught by Dan Rockhill, J.L. Constant Distinguished Professor of Architecture. Students in the full-time, two-semester course design a building in the fall and construct it in the spring.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and was developed by the Green Building Council to set the highest standards for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. Platinum is its highest rating and difficult to achieve. It is the fifth Platinum earned by a Studio 804 building in as many years.

In June, the building awarded an honorable mention at the Tenth International Prize for Sustainable Architecture. It is given by the University of Ferrara in Ferrara, Italy.

At this time there are only 10 LEED Platinum Buildings in Kansas. The first was the 5.4.7 Art Center in Greensburg, which was designed and built by Studio 804 in 2008. Its 2011 Center for Design Research, on west campus, gained the designation last year.

In order to receive its Platinum certification Galileo’s performance had to far exceed industry norms in several areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, indoor environmental quality and innovation.

Data is collected during the design of the building, materials used, and construction methods are documented during construction and verified by a third-party organization after the building is in operation.

“Achieving any LEED certification at all requires a tremendous commitment, and the owners and designers of very few buildings do it,” Rockhill said. “The work involved in creating the is extremely complex, very time consuming and excruciatingly detailed. It takes an amazing amount of tenacity to follow it all the way through to completion.”

“The construction itself is also more exacting than that of a regular building,” he said. “And the documentation and recordkeeping are extremely arduous. We even have to track that our construction waste was disposed of responsibly, and recycled if possible.”

Despite the amount of effort put into earning Platinum ratings, Rockhill downplays their importance. “LEED is just one way of verifying of ideas that already fit comfortably within what has been Studio 804’s design philosophy since we started it 18 years ago. We always weigh the environmental impact of our design decisions heavily and take great pride in leading the conversation about the need for environmental stewardship.”

The plan of Galileo’s Pavilion is U-shaped, with a classroom housed in each of its two wings. Two vestibules and a reception area join the wings. In the reception area students can view explanations of the building's sustainability features.

Here the building’s energy consumption, and how much electricity its photovoltaic panels and wind turbine are producing, are displayed on a monitor in real time. Studio 804 is one of the first builders in the region to employ this technology, known as “net metering," and has been influential in getting area energy providers to embrace the concept.

The use of recycled materials is an attribute of nearly all Studio 804’s buildings. In this case, portions of the north, west and east façades of the building are clad in slate chalkboards reclaimed from schools throughout the Midwest.

The south façades and remaining portions of the east and west façades are clad in full-height glass panels recycled from a failed building project that are set into aluminum curtain wall. Louvered glass screens that resemble oversize jalousie windows cover the panels.

This use of what building designers call “passive solar” to keep the building comfortable is typical of Studio 804’s sensible approach to architecture. Other sustainability features include LED lighting and walls planted with ferns to purify the indoor air. Rainwater is harvested for later use, and green roof trays that grow drought-resistant plants both reduce runoff from the building.

Some parts of the building were prefabricated and assembled before being taken to the building site in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning’s 60,000 square-foot East Hills shop and fabrication facility, just outside Lawrence.