oberlin, ohio

William McDonough + Partners 1996

This 13,600 square foot zero-energy building was possibly the first substantially green high-performance building constructed on an American college campus. From the outset, and fundamental to the client, connection of building and landscape was to be an essential teaching tool.

Winner of numerous awards, the US Department of Energy lists the project as one of thirty milestone buildings of the twentieth century.

Situated at the intersection of two misaligned major north-south campus routes, the building program for classroom, office, and auditorium space developed around an enclosed double height plaza.

The surrounding bio-diverse didactic landscape features restored indigenous ecosystems, a fruit tree covered north-side earthen berm, gardens, and south side solar plaza

Adjacent to the auditorium to the east, a “living machine” processes building wastewater for reuse. To the west, an elongated bar of classrooms and offices maximizes passive solar gain and daylighting.

Systems and materials including regionally harvested woods, recycled steel, geothermal loops, and fresh air exchange, exemplify state of the art sustainable practices.

Hired as a project designer in 1997, I initiated the construction document set and layout, established detail documentation for wall sections, window details, the auditorium and living machine. I was later tasked with revising the overall design to successfully bring construction costs in line with the client’s budget. As a team member I helped coordinate materials, specifications, and document production, as well as mechanical, day-lighting, and structural consultants