2133 Sheridan Rd, Evanston Map
Davis Brody Bond
The Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center is the first building on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus built specifically to target certification in environmental sustainability. The 84,000 square-foot educational and laboratory structure was designed by architects Davis Brody Bond of New York and built by general contractor Turner Construction. A team from the Rocky Mountain Institute, one of the preeminent leaders in resource efficiency and sustainable design, served as a special consultant to the University throughout the project.
When it opened in October 2005, the design center became the focal point of the McCormick School of Engineering’s design curriculum. In fact, the most interesting green feature is that the building itself is a teaching tool – an example of integrated sustainable design for the students and faculty who use it. A unique visual monitoring system allows students to view the building’s environmental conditions and chart its efficiency. This system earned an innovation point that helped secure LEED Silver certification for the building under LEED NC 2.1.
Another way the educational impact of design center is apparent is the contrast with the older Technical Institute building next door. (This dark, stone complex was built 50 years before the development of the first LEED standard.) The design center’s large front widows, sprawling skylight, and open layout provide natural lighting to 75% of the interior space, even with two of the six floors below ground. Aspiring designers who use both buildings will certainly appreciate the value of this distinction, especially when working in the sun-lit basement machine shop.
As a site design engineer, I have a particular appreciation for the importance of context as an element of green design, and this team has done a great job integrating the building into its surroundings. For example, a specially integrated retention basin below the building captures rainwater to irrigate the surrounding area, including Northwestern’s historic Shakespeare Garden nearby. In addition, students and staff at the adjacent Dearborn Observatory appreciate the downward-facing exterior lights designed to minimize urban light pollution.
Overall, this facility provides Northwestern with a great teaching tool for its design students, defining a middle-ground to strive for between the humming industrial structure and the grassy fields that flank it. The success of this design has even led Northwestern to adopt a policy targeting LEED certification for all future campus buildings. Other team members on this project included MEP Engineer BR+A Consulting Engineers, structural engineer Chris P. Stefanos & Associates, civil engineer ARC Design Associates, and commissioning and sustainability consultant Sebesta Blomberg.