2022 AIA CA DESIGN AWARDS
Special Commendation: Design for Energy
Project Location: Isla Vista, California
Photographer: Bruce Damonte
The Institute for Energy Efficiency at University of California, Santa Barbara required a headquarters that could adapt to a fast-arriving future of scientific research. Henley Hall is a 49,900 sq. ft., LEED platinum-aspiring laboratory and education building housing laboratories, offices, and collaboration space. The three-story building is a building that breathes and connects to its stunning natural surroundings while integrating energy-saving measures that minimize operational carbon.
“Building form and materiality has a nice clarity, and the project utilized a thoughtful, integrated design approach.” – 2022 Design Awards Jury
Henley Hall is home to the vanguard of energy research, housing high-tech and sensitive laboratories while fully integrating itself into the University of California Santa Barbara’s existing campus of low-rise massing and rich materials inspired by the landscape. A lecture hall, classrooms and offices are oriented around a three-story atrium that connects occupants while promoting airflow and natural daylight, centering the movement and life of the building around comfortable, highly efficient spaces for casual interaction.
The new Henley Hall sits along a prominent bicycle circulation route and provides 150 additional bicycle parking spaces on its site. The project provides the campus community with a new outdoor gathering space under a bosque of African tuliptrees that has tables and charging outlets. The design team met with UCSB’s Campus Planning Committee to properly integrate Henley Hall into the fabric of campus. The California Coastal Commission and Goleta Water District were also consulted early on to manage water on site due to the project’s proximity to both the coast and an environmentally sensitive habitat area.
Fronted by a terra cotta umbra and a grove of flowering trees that shade outdoor and indoor workspaces, Henley Hall builds on Santa Barbara’s fabric of low-rise massing and rich materials in harmony with the landscape. The design of Henley Hall integrates building users with the habitat by dematerializing the boundaries between the outdoors and in, allowing breezes to flow through the building’s atrium and extending workspaces to the outdoor green space. Stormwater is absorbed on site through landscape integration, porous hard surfaces, and greywater recycling throughout, diverting excess and contaminated water from the nearby ecologically sensitive habitat area. The landscape, consisting of a variety of drought-tolerant trees, shrubs and ground cover, uses recycled water and efficient systems for irrigation.
Water management at Henley Hall is a priority. The Henley Hall site is a former parking lot, with much of the nonporous asphalt replaced by permeable surfaces and plantings that capture stormwater before it flows into the nearby Goleta Slough ecosystem and the adjacent Pacific coast. The building’s design conserves water through both passive and active strategies. Plumbing fixtures throughout the building are low-flow, and irrigation and toilet flushing use recycled water.
Henley Hall’s labs anticipate changes in research methodologies, with flexible, open infrastructure that exposes utilities in anticipation of future upgrades to accommodate technological advancements. The building is designed with minimal and durable materials and finishes, keeping an eye toward future adaptive reuse and renovation. The spare material palette—metal, concrete, gypsum and wood—unifies the light-filled interior and requires minimal maintenance.
As the home for the Institute for Energy Efficiency, the design integrates energy-saving measures to minimize operational carbon without sacrificing comfort, quality or aesthetics. An optimized thermal envelope, solar shading and high-performance glazing, and daylighting design with a daylight dimming system manage the effects of the California sun. Active chilled beams in research laboratories, hot water radiators in offices, and natural ventilation systems in offices and shared workspaces keep occupants comfortable. Efficient lighting with daylight sensors, as well as electrical and gas sub-metering makes reducing, measuring and verifying energy use simple.
Daylight and fresh air are in vast supply in Henley Hall. The design embraces climactic opportunities for views and comfort by optimizing solar shading and embracing non-mechanical, open air ventilation in the east wing’s atrium. The three-story commons connects breakout spaces and student and faculty offices, to the sealed, highly sensitive laboratory spaces. The research labs, traditionally inward-facing and opaque, are exposed to the exterior, taking advantage of views towards a protected natural habitat and stunning vistas of the Santa Ynez mountains beyond. A palette of low toxicity building materials–stainless steel, wood and concrete–unify the interior.
A long-lived laboratory building design must anticipate the technological advancements that laboratory equipment will make in the next decades. Henley Hall’s laboratory spaces look toward the future by incorporating open-ceiling infrastructure and wheeled lab benches so that researchers can reconfigure lab spaces as needed. Through integrating whole-building life cycle assessment into early design phases, the design team identified a concrete mix with high recycled content (fly ash) and ensured healthy building materials were used throughout the interior. The material palette is elegantly spare and durable, minimizing maintenance over time.
Henley Hall’s 100-year lifespan will see many changes in building occupancy and program, as well as changes to the surrounding climate. In a coastal area where sea levels are predicted to rise 12 inches by 2100, where infrequent but heavy periods of rainfall will increase erosion and drought, Henley Hall is robust and designed for resilience.
The all-electric building employs passive and active techniques to reduce energy use, starting with a fundamental re-thinking of how operational loads and space planning could be integrated for optimal performance in both areas. With sensitive laboratories gathered in the west wing and flexible instruction and office spaces in the east wing, use of energy intensive cooling measures—like active chilled beams and safety-focused lab ventilation —is limited and modulated by active air quality sampling. The instruction and office spaces are gathered around a three-story commons featuring an automated natural ventilation system, creating a space that truly breathes. The design blurs the lines between the outdoors and in by inviting instructors, researchers and students to work outdoors in a seating area shaded by a deep umbra. This relaxing setting features drought-tolerant trees, shrubs, and natively planted bioswales that manage stormwater on site, reducing erosion damage.
The building’s exterior modulates the intense southern California sun with a high-performance envelope. Openings in the envelope’s terracotta sunscreen are tuned to the daylight needs within, creating shade that minimizes solar glare and gain without losing light. The glazing, too, minimizes gain with fritted glass. In the west wing, where tightly controlled laboratory programming means natural ventilation is not an option, the façade welcomes natural light with abundant glazing. These laboratories have a view of the Goleta Slough, an environmentally sensitive habitat area, and the Santa Ynez mountains beyond.
Housing the Institute for Energy Efficiency, a key driver of significant advances in energy efficiency, Henley Hall must remain on the vanguard of technologies that improve energy use and quality of life around the globe. To design a facility that can adapt to emerging technologies, the design team used flexible, open-ceiling infrastructure to easily run utility lines for yet-to-be-invented equipment and placed laboratory elements on wheels so that research areas can be reconfigured easily.
Henley Hall anticipates a fast-arriving future, featuring adaptable design built from robust materials carefully selected for minimal embodied carbon emissions.
Due to COVID-19 safety protocols, initial occupancy when Henley Hall opened in late 2020 was reduced to allow for safe social distancing. However, initial client feedback has indicated the ample natural ventilation and open-air spaces are ideal for the current conditions. The design team has established a long-term plan for monitoring energy and water use to ensure the building is performing as anticipated and will be conducting additional post-occupancy evaluation monitoring and surveys following the first year of normal post-pandemic occupancy.
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