The building for the Yale University School of Forestry & Environmental Studies at New Haven, known as Kroon Hall, stands on a previously occupied messy plot of land. It is one construction, two-storeys high on one side, three-storeys on the other, covered by a barrel vault. The parts open to the public, like the environmental centre, classrooms, canteen and other gathering points, are on the upper floor, gained by a central staircase.
By way of interior cladding and furnishing the architects’ choice fell on American red oak, its warm tones forming a pleasing contrast to the exposed concrete finish especially on the ground floor. Red oak is employed for the MDF ceiling panelling, the floors of the upper storey, the treads on the stairs and certain items of furniture like tables and benches.
For the roof timbers they used glulam beams in Douglas fir. This wood was also used for outside cladding, being well-suited to the harsh local climate.
The design practice, Hopkins Architects, also aimed for an eco-sustainable building by attention to orientation, keeping thermal mass high, insulating thoroughly, using alternative forms of energy and finding ways of saving water. Set east-west, the complex has a long northern façade with small apertures and is set into the hillside; on the southern side it spills out into the garden. Exploiting natural light, the south façade allows solar gain in winter and is suitably shaded against the summer sun. To keep the energy requirements as low as possible, windows are set to open in spring and autumn; at other times displacement ventilation is used with heat recovery. The heating and cooling systems are by heat exchange based on geothermal wells going about 500 m deep. Another source of renewable energy is photovoltaic panels on the roof, while rainwater is captured, filtered and used for toilet flushing.
By careful planning Hopkins has achieved a zero-impact building perfectly in keeping with a university faculty that is committed to fostering good environmental practices and wise forest management in the USA and throughout the world.
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