A Building for the Birds
Size: 103,000 ft2
Type: Academic building with classrooms, offices, greenhouse, and labs
Owner: Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania
MEP engineer: Bard Rao + Athanas Consulting Engineers
Contractor: Turner Construction Co.
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When ornithologists are in the house, they have a slight problem with the kind of building that kills birds—i.e., the kind of building that has lots of reflective glass. Glass creates the illusion of more sky or trees, causing avian species to crash into windows and die, sometimes by the hundreds ever year. That would not be a good look for the Lafayette College biology department, which is housed along with other science departments in the Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center.
It took a special kind of project team to design a bird-safe building—with just 24% glass, some of it fritted—that also provides daylight for occupants. But by doing so, the team earned the Bird Collision Deterrence pilot credit. Birds are routinely seen swerving away from the glass.
And the team had an unusually tight budget to work with, so the focus was on ROI-driven sustainability. Fifteen sustainability strategies went through a rigorous life-cycle cost analysis, with the team settling on a heat-recovery chiller with a payback of eight years as well as an energy-saving fume hood system with a payback of four years.
The project won a prestigious Top Ten award from the American Institute of Architects’ Committee on the Environment.
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