University Center at The New School Wins Environmental Award from AIA

Today, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced University Center at The New School as a winner of an AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Award. The 10 recipients of this honor represent the year’s exemplary projects in sustainable design.

A LEED® Gold building located in New York’s textured Greenwich Village neighborhood, SOM's University Center employs both passive and active design strategies to minimize energy consumption. To decrease solar heat gain, the envelope of the building is limited to 35 percent glass, which is organized strategically to optimize interior daylighting. Hand-finished bronze shingles shade those windows, while contributing to a bold visual display that underscores the new building’s historic context.

Describing the inventive exterior, the COTE jury noted, “Glazing was judiciously used to create a dramatic connection to the neighborhood, and to harvest daylight and create views from all of the rooms.”

University Center’s powerful sustainable features are not all visible to passersby. A sub-basement ice-storage system uses electricity from the power grid during off-peak times to freeze water in a series of chambers; this ice melts through daytime, reducing the building’s cooling load during peak energy consumption times. Meanwhile, a green roof mitigates both urban heat island effect and stormwater runoff. Captured water is used for both gray-and blackwater treatment facilities in the building.

Overall, the building serves as a living element of the curriculum, providing on-site training to the next generation of green leaders to students in environmental studies, sustainability management, and urban design.

Awarded annually, the AIA COTE Top Ten Awards recognize projects that “demonstrate the highest accomplishment in environmentally sustainable architecture.” Top Ten winners exhibit “inspired architectural design, rigorous resource efficiency, reduced carbon emissions, healthy indoor environments, and resilience in a rapidly changing world.” University Center and this year’s nine other honorees will be feted next month, as part of the AIA National Convention taking place in Atlanta.