One of the projects I was fortunate to develop for my alma mater was a conference center and office building for IFAS (Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences), the Straughn IFAS Professional Development Center. Located on the south side of the University of Florida campus, near the veterinary college, it was a perfect site for an agricultural institute.
This project houses three meeting rooms that can be combined into a single larger meeting room capable of seating more than 300 people. A large covered outdoor classroom also seats 300 people. The meeting room area also serves as a hurricane shelter during emergencies. The second floor of the building is an office area for the 4-H administrative department consisting of more than 15 offices, two large conference rooms and associated work areas.
As always, I started by trying to “push the envelope” of design. And this was one project I developed almost entirely in SketchUp before moving into traditional 2D CADD.
The University definitely wanted the UF collegiate gothic style to be reflected in the new building, even though it was some distance from the historic campus center. Here is the final rendering that was approved for completing the construction package. Note that there were dozens of intermediate sketches used to tweak the design as we sought to capture the client’s wishes.
The landscaping was ultimately design by UF’s environmental horticultural program, led by Dr. Gail Hansen, and used as a Demonstration Garden teaching tool to demonstrate LID (low impact design), rainwater harvesting and xeriscape plant selection. You can see how closely the final building matches the design rendering (note that landscaping is always rendered at a 5+ year growth).
The building is two-story and uses ICF (insulated concrete forms). We used brick veneer to fit in with the campus and precast concrete coping, brick pediment and precast concrete arch voussoirs and imposts to emulate the historic collegiate gothic style on the UF campus.
The interior design featured terrazzo flooring in a pattern I developed to signify movement through the building and progress through the history of IFAS.
The primary donor for the project was Dr. Alto Straughn and his wife Patricia, a member of the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame and an innovator in developing and improving Florida’s blueberry crop. The dark blue wall and blueberry sculptural medallion on the entry arch was in homage to his contribution.
The project was completed in early 2012 and was at that time considered among the most energy efficient buildings on the campus. The ICF walls provide a durable structure (for the hurricane shelter aspect) and superior insulation. Wall insulation exceeds R-21 and roof insulation exceeds R-40, resulting in an energy efficient envelope. HVAC is provided through a rooftop-mounted, variable-air volume unit using evaporative cooled condensors.
This is an example of achieving a Gold certification without using any “exotic” sustainable technologies. There are no rooftop gardens, solar panels or other on-site energy generation. Careful selection of materials, attention to the building envelope and insulation, careful design of mechanical and electrical systems all contributed to the rating achieved.