By Lisa Kopochinski
DALLAS—The University of Texas at Dallas certainly has something to celebrate. Not only was its new Engineering and Computer Science West (ECSW) recently recognized as LEED Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council, but it has also been presented with an international design award.
The building, which opened in August 2018, includes elements that reduce the amount of solar heart absorbed by the building while maximizing daylight with its all-glass modern exterior.
“What distinguishes ECSW is that it is a student-centric building with plenty of space for students, as well as exposed mechanicals to help educate mechanical engineers in 21st-century building technologies,” says Dr. Mario Roteo, department head of mechanical engineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.
For the Lab of the Year competition, ECSW was selected from a broad cross section of corporate, government and academic research lab submissions. The judges on the panel consisted of architects, lab planners, construction project managers, and the editors of Laboratory Design magazine.
Additionally, R&D Magazine honored the building with a 2019 Lab of the Year Award Special Mention for Engineering Labs. This prestigious international competition recognizes innovative designs, materials and construction for laboratory and health care facilities.
“I am delighted that the innovative design of the ECSW building has been recognized in a competition that highlights the best lab design work in the world,” says Dr. Inga Musselman, provost and vice president for academic affairs and the Cecil H. Green Distinguished Chair of Academic Leadership.
“The building was intentionally designed to showcase engineering processes to enhance and support the academic environment for our future engineers.”
SmithGroup was the architect on the four-story ECSW building that spans 200,000 square feet of research and teaching labs, faculty offices, student workspaces and a 300-seat auditorium. Reinforced concrete and steel structures are evident throughout the building—from exposed columns to the polished concrete floor slabs.
“Our team was united in its commitment to design a new-generation facility to teach the next generation of engineers,” explains Kevin Glasscock, an architect at SmithGroup.
“The building itself is used as an engineering teaching tool with deliberately exposed structural components, elevator systems, and mechanical, electrical, plumbing and technology systems. These systems are color-coded and carefully organized to demonstrate these engineering components.”
In addition to glass-windowed labs that allows passerby to see research—which includes energy, robotics, nanotechnologies and biotechnologies—the building combines passive design strategies and calibrated shading elements to reduce overall solar heat gain, while maximizing daylight.
Adds Dr. Rotea,” LEED Gold is a ‘great-to-have’ recognition.”