LAWRENCE — The Hill Engineering Research and Development Center received two important accolades during the first week of January. The building, sometimes known by its informal name, the EcoHawks Research Facility, was designed and constructed by the Department of Architecture’s Studio 804 and opened in the Spring of 2013.
Architect magazine named the structure one of its Best Projects of 2013. Only 13 buildings worldwide were honored. The Top Buildings of 2013 article can be read here.
Managing Editor Katie Gerfen, wrote, “This research facility at the University of Kansas is a beautifully crafted pavilion, made all the more laudable by the fact that it was crafted entirely by the students of Dan Rockhill-led Studio 804.
“With construction starting in a brutal December on the Plains, students were hand-weaving aluminum strips in sub-zero temperatures and wrangling light-reactive aerogel shades to craft a result would make any professional proud.”
A feature story on the EcoHawks Research Facility ran in Architect’s August 2013 issue.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Green Building Council informed Rockhill, who is the Department of Architecture's J.L. Constant Professor of Architecture, that the building has earned a LEED Platinum designation. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and it was developed by the USGBC to set high standards for the design, construction and operation of green buildings.
In order to receive LEED certification, a candidate building’s performance is measured in several key 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 they are 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,” said Rockhill. “The work involved in creating the submission for a Platinum building 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. “We even have to show that our construction waste was disposed of responsibly and recycled if possible.”
Studio 804 has constructed six of the 12 LEED Platinum-rated buildings in Kansas. The first was the 5.4.7 Art Center in Greensburg, which opened in 2008. The Hill Center, which is also sometimes referred to by the informal name EcoHawks Research and Development Center, is the sixth straight Studio 804 project to achieve a Platinum rating.