Carnegie Mellon University Receives Architecture Award

PITTSBURGH — Carnegie Mellon University’s Gates Center for Computer Science and Hillman Center for Future-Generation Technologies have been recognized as one of nine projects worldwide to receive the 2012 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Honor Award for Architecture.

The two centers were designed by Atlanta, Ga.-based Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects — construction was completed in 2009. The buildings serve as a crossroads for the campus — with five main entrances on three levels and two major pedestrian bridges, making access to the 143-acre campus easy for students.

“These buildings are visually stunning, but this recognition by the AIA is about more than just beauty,” said Jared L. Cohon, Carnegie Mellon president. “The Gates and Hillman centers occupy a key site on our campus and serve to tie the community together as never before. Inside, their spaces foster our culture of collaboration, innovation and hard work. The AIA jurors understood this and we thank them for this award.”

The AIA jury consisted of nine members and was chaired by Rod Kruse of BNIM Architects in Des Moines, Iowa.

“This project is scaled perfectly within an urban campus and within a uniquely difficult site,” said AIA jurors.

The project was also designed and built to meet green standards. The Gates and Hillman centers were awarded LEED Gold Certification in 2011 due to its attention to energy and water conservation, as well as sustainable practices.

“The Gates and Hillman buildings have exceeded our wildest dreams,” said Randal E. Bryant, dean of the School of Computer Science. “It is truly a pleasure to have a building that is both so visually interesting and highly functional. Our students and faculty enjoy working and learning there, and the entire campus has benefited from the connectivity and green landscape it provides.”

The project more than doubled the amount of green space and includes five green roofs and a winter garden.

Along with the notable green design — architects also were praised for their abilities to use materials appropriate for the exterior of the school. The centers feature a zinc exterior skin and distinctive window openings, unlike anything else on the campus.

“Perhaps the most wonderful aspect of the project is a set of views and visual connections created by transparent interior glazing and non-reflective exterior glazing, as well as carefully placed and angled floor plates,” said jurors.

Inside, the centers include 217,000 square feet of offices, classrooms and collaborative spaces in nine stories and cover a terrain with variations of elevation of up to 75 feet. Among the challenges of the design included a large zone of subsurface rock and existing sewer lines that limited where construction could occur.

“The Gates-Hillman project was successful because our academics knew what they wanted, our administration supported the transformation nature of the effort and architect Mack Scogin knew how to pull it all together,” said Ralph Horgan, associate vice provost for Campus Design and Facility Development. “It’s a great home for SCS and a fantastic addition to campus. The building only adds to the significant architectural heritage here at Carnegie Mellon.”