The University of Michigan Law School wanted to consolidate all of the disparate offices and departments that had located elsewhere on campus as a result of rapid growth throughout the years. The master plan was to bring them together in the same location within the historic Law Quad. As part of this centralization, an entirely new four-story building was constructed as a state-of-the-art learning facility.
South Hall is a 98,000-square-foot building that is fully sustainable and was awarded‚ LEED Gold, by the U.S. Green Building Council. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system was avidly supported by existing law students and held accountable the members of the project’s design team to ensure that they were the best in the sustainability category. With a budget of $54-million, construction was complete in October 2011 featuring technology-rich classrooms, a two-level clinic suite with client meeting rooms for pro bono law services, as well as new offices for Admissions, Financial Aid, Development and Administration.
Principal-in-Charge Paul Stachowiak, Lead Mechanical Engineer Matt Perez and Lead Electrical Engineer Tom Carron reflect on this project.
Describe the scope of the project.
Stachowiak: South Hall was really about solving the need for more space. As the Law School grew, they found that they were falling behind their competition both in terms of space and in the quality of space within the classroom.
Perez: This was the first new building located outside the original boundary of the Law Quad and it had to aesthetically match all of the original buildings clad with the iconic Collegiate Gothic architecture. Plus there was a very specific mandate that the facility be as sustainable as possible.
Carron: We incorporated cutting-edge technology into this building wherever we could including sophisticated AV systems in the classrooms and low voltage programmable lighting control that is integrated with building HVAC and AV systems.
Stachowiak: The exterior cladding had to blend with the rest of the buildings. So we had to choose stone materials that came from the same quarries as the original 1930s buildings to preserve history and maintain the Collegiate Gothic architecture that makes the University Law School buildings so identifiable.
What were the biggest challenges of this project?
Perez: Building a regional chiller plant in the middle of winter was a tedious, grueling process. We had to coordinate with the City to install underground pipe joints from a distance away. Figuring out where to put it and how to conceal it was challenging as well. It’s large and there was not a lot of available space. The cooling towers were hidden within the roof structure covered by louvers so the architectural aesthetic was not disturbed. Plus the roofline was altered to accommodate maximum performance of the equipment.
What was unique about this project?
Carron: In the large lecture halls, professors can push one specific button on their podium and the projectors will turn on, the projection screen will come down, lights will dim, and blackout shades will close. Teleconferencing is available with the push of another button. It’s all programmable and customizable to the needs of the class. We designed a control room for the Law School audio visual technicians that allows them to program and trouble shoot classroom AV equipment from a central location.
Perez: Because the classrooms were outfitted with sensitive recording and broadcasting equipment, the noise requirements for the air systems were adjusted to extreme levels.
Carron: Each lighting fixture in South Hall has a dimmable programmable ballast which makes the entire system highly customizable and flexible. Photo sensors around the perimeter allow for ‚Äúdaylight harvesting‚Äù where the lights automatically dim based on the amount of daylight in the space. The lighting system conserves energy at a very high level.
Talk about the sustainable qualities of the structure.
Perez: With all lighting ballasts being addressable, we combined that function with an energy-efficient HVAC system featuring energy recovery systems and a high-performance envelope. As part of LEED qualification, thermal scanning of the building was done to make sure that energy was not escaping the structure. Proof of energy consumption is over 50% of the LEED certification criteria.
Stachowiak: IDS is now a regular contributor to the University ECM group to help evaluate energy savings cost analysis. We’re on their standards list.
Perez: The LEED process demands that we make an electronic model of the building and then it’s scrutinized. We had to then prove our work. It is a tough process but we prevailed Gold!
What are your thoughts about the project today?
Stachowiak: The challenge was to put the Law School on par with their competition relative to technology, sustainability, and available space and I think we delivered just that.
Perez: University of Michigan Law School has always had a world class reputation. I now know that the facilities there fully support that reputation!