Design: The Charles Hostler Student Center

The Charles Hostler Student Center designed by VJAA in Minneapolis is the recipient of AIA COTE (Committee on the Environment) Top Ten Award, 2009. It is located on the campus of the American University of Beirut. The awards recognize projects as examples of sustainable architecture and green design solutions that protect and enhance the environment.

Situated on Beirut's seafront the new 204,000 sq ft facility accommodates competitive and recreational athletic facilities for swimming, basketball, handball, volleyball, squash, exercise and weight training. The space also includes an auditorium with associated meeting rooms, cafeteria with study space, and underground parking for 200 cars.

The design of the space and concepts include:

• Green spaces on the rooftops to allow for a more pleasing physical and visual integration with the upper campus, providing usable green rooftop areas for activities and reducing the amount of exposure to the sun

• Solar panels installed at the site heat the indoor pool and other spaces

• Green plant cover filled with landscaped vegetation maintains the coolness of the entire area during hot summer days

• Created multiple building volumes connecting a continuous field of habitable space with gardens on multiple levels allowing the building forms themselves to redistribute air, activity and shade. This usable program area on the site is increased through shading and ventilation of outdoor spaces

• The east-west orientation of the building forms helps to shade exterior courtyards, reducing the amount of southern exposure. The orientation also directs nighttime breezes and daytime sea breezes to cool outdoor spaces.
• The team also preserved a significant amount of existing landscape (the buildings were sited to maintain existing trees)
• All the teams strategies also focus on reducing the requirements for energy and water consumption

This facility was designed with a lot of the LEED certification concepts and criteria outside the United States by a US firm. As I stated before LEED should be a tool to help you know the first steps to creating green buildings but as an expert in your field you should strive to supersede these requirements and find ways to improve on them.

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