The new Pritzker Science Center is awe-inspiring for many reasons: the seamless transition it provides between classroom and lab space; the glass interior and exterior walls, which allow students, teachers and passers-by to “see” the science learning that’s taking place; and the fact that it was designed to meet silver LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.
In honor of Earth Day, Andy Jonic, project architect for the Pritzker Science Center, spoke to students about sustainable architecture at an assembly hosted by LORAX. Named for the Dr. Seuss character that “speaks for the trees,” LORAX is a student group established in 1987 that raises awareness of the environment and our responsibility as stewards.
“This is an exciting time in architecture because of the technological revolution that’s happening right now,” says Mr. Jonic, who works for William Rawn Associates in Boston. He outlined for students four goals of sustainable architecture: to have longevity, to foster community, to preserve or create open space, and to use energy and resources efficiently. He showed photographs of local and international buildings and spaces that represent these goals.
Mr. Jonic highlighted some of the design principles behind the Science Center: The exterior glass entrance and interior glass classroom walls were used to “make science visible.” Spaces inside were designed to build a sense of community, both within the building and on campus. For example, on the first floor, the faculty lounge was placed directly across from the student lounge area to encourage student/faculty interaction. He also reviewed some of the low-tech and high-tech environmental components used in the structure—the rainwater garden, solar panels, and recycled wood ceilings and floors.
“In the future, the Pritzker Science Center will serve as a statement of where we were with sustainable architecture in 2010. Going forward, we hope to design buildings that will not only use energy, but produce energy.”