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UNLV Libraries -> Architecture Studies Library -> Las Vegas Guides and Collections ->
AIA Nevada Design & Service Awards Archive -> 2009 awards -> Joe Crowley Student Union


Entry number: B09028
Project Name: Joe Crowley Student Union
Building Type: University Student Union
Completion Date: Fall 2007
Building Location: University of Nevada, Reno Campus, NV
Type of Construction:
New construction (steel and concrete)
Materials Used: Steel, concrete, brick and metal panels
Building Area: 167,000 sf

Design Team:
Architecture Firm: WTW Architect
Associate Architect: Collaborative Design Studio
Architect of Record: Richard De Young
University of Nevada, Reno
Interior Designer: Collaborative Design Studio
Landscape Architect: Lumos & Associates, Inc
Structural Engineer: Forbes & Dunagan
Electrical Engineer: MSA Engineering, Inc.
Mechanical Engineer:
Petty & Associates
Civil Engineer: POdyssey Engineering, Inc
General Contractor: Penta Building Group
Photographer: Jeffrey Dow Photography

Statement of Design Approach:
The University of Nevada, Reno campus is an oasis of red brick and mature trees with spectacular views to the surrounding high desert and alpine environments that make Northern Nevada such a unique region. The design challenge, as directed by University officials, was to illustrate these values through physical form on a dynamic site, but also to re-align the University’s presence and point of arrival to the city and the community. Our solution for the new Joe Crowley Student Union embraces these opportunities with a very functional campus icon that respects the adjacent historic district in massing and detailing, respects current and future campus circulation axes, and is responsive to the environment by incorporating sustainable building technology in a very visible manner.

The Student Union establishes itself as a cohesive partner to the AIA Communities by Design’s 10 Principles for Livable Communities by providing a hub for the University community, by providing choices of experience and venue to users of diverse age and heritage, by encouraging a variety of transportation options through site walkways, bike racks and nearby bus service, by welcoming visitors into well-defined, stimulating and vibrant public spaces, by enhancing and maintaining campus character and identity, by integrating sustainable design practices throughout to aid in the preservation of our environment, by surrounding the building with open, natural spaces for recreation and transition, and by providing a successful, pleasing design that harmonizes with the surrounding campus and community.

The design goals for the new Joe Crowley Student Union were to “BROADEN campus tradition to the realigned campus core, COMPLEMENT the buildings on the historic quad with a new front door presence at the relocated university entrance, and SHOWCASE the standards for environmental design for the future.” The project also was charged to CONNECT campus districts while redefining a new major campus green space. The Union accomplishes these goals by responding with a building that repositions the center of campus and, by its reinterpretation of the existing context, makes a significant statement about the future direction of the campus and its mission for the State of Nevada - environmental stewardship.

BROADEN – The new Union establishes a new campus front door and as part of the new “University Circle” organizing campus axes and orienting visitors upon arrival. Massing and detailing retain the value of previous construction methods but reinterpret them to meet current requirements. Contemporary materials and assemblages establish a new direction for future buildings on campus.

COMPLEMENT – For visitors to Reno, the Union presents an exciting introduction to the values, heritage, and direction of the University. Although using materials similar to the neighboring centuries-old buildings, the design reinterprets the combination of materials, detailing, and fenestration patterns using a more contemporary design palette. The introduction of metal panels and sun shading devices gives the building a current character while still respecting the historical components of the traditional buildings.

SHOWCASE – The Union is a testament to students who care about the environment. Through many and varied sources, students were instrumental in swaying University officials to enhance the sustainable aspects of the building. Fostering environmental stewardship was a priority to the University, students and the design team alike. Constant reminders of the building’s sustainable qualities exist in materials used and programs sponsored throughout by the University.

CONNECT - Positioned at the crossroads of campus axes and prominently positioned to be visible from the relocated campus entrance, the new Student Union fulfills numerous master plan objectives. The building is strategically located to provide the arrival point to the University while serving as the focus of the north-south campus and the springboard for planned expansion to the east. Its unique hillside location permits a dramatic vertical transition through the building linking the proposed new library with the existing recreation center thus completing a synergistic hub of campus activity and student life.

Sustainable Description:
The design team incorporated sustainable building concepts into all parts of the project. The University’s environmental policy delineated objectives and procedures for campus endeavors, including how buildings are constructed, maintained, and renovated. The new Student Union is the manifestation of that policy as the first new building on campus to minimize the ecological impact of its construction by incorporating environmentally friendly and sustainable design principles.

In a two-day study at the PGE Energy Center in San Francisco, members of the team used scale models to determine how well the design brought good quality daylight into the interiors. The team adjusted light shelves, moved and resized skylights, and added shading features to the exterior in order to optimize daylight penetration and minimize energy use.

Results of the daylight analysis and subsequent energy modeling led to numerous design modifi cations including increased exterior wall and roof insulation, downsized chillers due to effi cient lighting and window glazing design, installation of high performance chillers, occupancy control boxes, and placement of interior and exterior light-shading devices at the building’s south and west facing windows.

Exterior building materials were selected to be durable and sustainable, possessing high thermal mass, and made from recycled materials. The roof was designed as a “cool” roof – including mechanically fastened, 60 mil., fire/ windstorm class 1 A90 EPMD or single-ply PVC panels to refl ect the light. Solar panels were also installed on the roof to add a continuous and renewable energy source to the building. Integrated sunshades respond to the environmental reality of over 300 days of sunshine per year. Extensive modeling and daylight testing helped determine shade positioning and window sizes.

Interior building materials made from recycled components including plastics, metals and fabrics were specified. Walls and wall coverings were used with low VOC and long lifecycles, and flooring products were chosen that contained post industrial recycled and organic content. We also strived to recycle all excess waste produced.

The site landscape was developed with xeriscaping, drip irrigation and paver design to reduce heat-island effect.

The end result was a building and site design that intently strived to reduce overall energy consumption, increased longevity and lifecycle, and minimized the impact on the environment.



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Material in ASL Library: Form Core Boards, Project Description Form, Exteriors Photos, Location Map, Site Plan, Floor Plan, and Interior Photos

These images are low-resolution reproductions of the images provided for the AIA Nevada Design Awards. All materials should be considered copyrighted and may not be reproduced or used without permission.

Monday, 17-Dec-2012 10:50:06 PST