New Engineering School Maximizes Flexibility

Nov. 10, 2008

Washington University in St. Louis broke ground on a 150,875-square-foot building for its School of Engineering & Applied Science. RMJM is the architect for the new building, designed to relate to the rich tradition of historically based design on the university's Danforth Campus. For this project, RMJM Hillier combined its expertise in state-of-the-art "plug-and-play" laboratories and historic preservation into a unified concept.


Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton has announced that the new building will be named the Stephen F. &  Camilla T. Brauer Hall in honor of the donors. When Brauer Hall is completed in 2010, it will serve as home for the school of engineering's Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering (EECE), provide space for the International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy & Sustainability (I-CARES), and provide expanded facilities for the university's Department of Biomedical Engineering.

"We recognized that to be successful in attracting leading, research-active faculty and superb students to the School of Engineering & Applied Science, people who can help us realize our vision to establish Washington University as a hub for environmental and energy research, education, innovation and action, we must have the physical facilities supportive of and commensurate with this ambition," says Salvatore P. Sutera, PhD, senior professor of biomedical engineering and interim dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science.

Brauer Hall will connect on all levels with Uncas A. Whitaker Hall, home of the Department of Biomedical Engineering . RMJM Hillier's design embraces the Collegiate Gothic style characteristic of the Danforth campus while incorporating the subtle variations in period and expression originally introduced by 19th century campus designers Cope and Stewardson in association with the Olmstead Brothers.

 "The vision for Brauer Hall reflects an understanding of the school's history and future," says Peter Schubert, RMJM Hillier's design director. "Our proposal seeks to bring to life an ongoing master plan based on Cope & Stewardson's historic campus designs. While the exterior facades will reflect the beloved and historically important traditional languages of the original campus vision, the interior will reflect the pressures and considerations of modern lab design."

Two-thirds of the space in Brauer Hall will be dedicated to research laboratories designed to maximize flexibility across the range of aquatics, aerosols, synthetic chemistry, and biomedical research activities that will be housed within the structure. A plug-and-play casework system, which includes moveable base cabinets, removable tables, and ceiling-mounted service panels, improves the ability to accommodate a range of bench-top and floor-mounted equipment while reducing the cost of future renovations as research priorities change. In addition to instructional laboratories, classrooms, and specialized teaching areas, several conference rooms, faculty offices, and numerous student work spaces, Brauer Hall will house office suites for the dean of the school of engineering and for the EECE department and its chairman.

An innovative feature of the new facility will be an 85-seat distance-learning classroom available for use by all academic departments and schools. Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering Department Chair Professor Pratim Biswas said this classroom will be invaluable for communicating with EECE's research partners throughout the world, including the 25 member universities of Washington University's McDonnell Academy of Global Energy and Environment Partnership (MAGEEP).

All of the university's recent construction projects have been built with environmental sustainability in mind, and this building also is being designed as a green structure according to LEED specifications for a gold rating. Some of the sustainable design features of Brauer Hall include:

  • Thermally efficient exterior envelope reduces heat gain and heat loss
  • High albedo roof to reduce the heat-island effect
  • Energy savings in excess of 30 percent through high-efficiency air-handling systems that incorporate air-to-air recovery
  • Reduced water consumption by 30 percent through the use of low-flow fixtures including waterless urinals
  • Storm water recycling for use in irrigation
  • At least 35 percent of all materials will be either recycled, regional, rapidly renewable, or certified wood
  • Low-emitting materials for adhesives and interior floor and wall finishes
  • Recycling/salvaging at least 75 percent of non-hazardous construction waste

The project is being built by Clayco Corp. of St. Louis. Completion is expected in the third quarter of 2010.

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