By Beth Miller
Walk through Washington University’s Preston M. Green Hall on a typical Wednesday morning and you’ll find students in a classroom learning Engineering Mechanics I, graduate students and faculty working in labs, and others brainstorming groundbreaking solutions to the world’s most pressing needs in the inviting second-floor collaboration space.
While those activities may sound typical of any university building, Green Hall is different, as it was designed specifically to spark ideas, nurture creativity and be a hub for innovative, interdisciplinary research and education. More than a year after its dedication, Green Hall has not only met its goal, but has become a new gateway into Washington University’s Danforth Campus.
“We feel very fortunate and privileged to have our new building, thanks to the generous donation of our late alumnus, Preston M. Green, and his widow, Nancy Green, and the commitment of Washington University to make their dream happen,” says Arye Nehorai, PhD, the Eugene and Martha Lohman Professor and chair of the Preston M. Green Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering housed in Green Hall.
“The new building helps us recruit the best new faculty and students and accommodate the growth in our department,” he says. “Students in our new building sense the commitment to do the best research projects, and they enjoy the work and collaborative environment.”
Although the building is less than two years old, its Collegiate Gothic style built with red Missouri granite matches much older buildings on campus. But what’s inside is modern and provides the latest technology to prepare leaders for a global, technology-driven world. Contemporary chairs and benches near entrances provide conversation or study space, while lighting on the lower level and first floor gives the appearance of a starry night sky.
Constructed with regionally sourced and recycled materials, thermal windows, high-efficiency HVAC systems and finishes that promote good indoor air quality, the building is a model for sustainability. It achieved LEED Gold certification in February 2012, making it the second in the three-building engineering complex at the corner of Skinker Boulevard and Forest Park Parkway to achieve that designation, after Stephen F. & Camilla T. Brauer Hall. High-efficiency plumbing fixtures reduce overall water use by more than 30 percent. The windows were placed to allow natural light within offices and labs, and interior lighting is motion-sensitive. One hundred percent of irrigation is provided by captured rainwater stored in a turn-of-the 20th century brick sewer converted to a cistern. And the building is adjacent to the Skinker Metrolink station and MetroBus lines that provide a direct link with the School of Medicine.
In addition to 17 research labs and 150 classroom seats, there are a variety of conference and meeting rooms with high-tech equipment. On the lower level, the Rodin Auditorium, named for Ervin Y. Rodin, PhD, senior professor of applied math and systems science, is used by various university groups for special seminars and meetings.
In its first full academic year, Green Hall’s three classrooms held 67 courses, ranging from Properties of Materials to Thermodynamics. Joseph O’Sullivan, PhD, the Samuel C. Sachs Professor and dean of the UMSL/WUSTL Joint Undergraduate Engineering Program, has taught two classes and two seminars in Green Hall.
“We’re fortunate at Washington University to have a lot of very nice classrooms, and it’s nice to have these elite classrooms in our new engineering building,” he says.
Green Hall also is home to O’Sullivan’s research lab. “The labs are state-of-the-art, beautiful places,” he says. “It’s great for the students, and it helps communicate to them that a lot is expected of them.”
Lan Yang, PhD, associate professor in electrical & systems engineering, has 10 students working in her Micro/Nano Photonics Lab in Green Hall.
“When we learned we were going to move here, I consulted with the designers about what I needed for my lab,” says Yang, who has earned both a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Barack Obama and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award. “I got to design my ‘dream lab.’ Having a state-of-the-art lab is not only helpful for my research, but it is helpful when applying for grants because I can show that I have the cutting-edge
facility to do the research.”
Another thing Yang appreciates about Green Hall is that her office space and lab are close to each other, making it easier for her to work with students. Her Applied Optics classroom also is in Green Hall.
Hamadri Pakrasi, PhD, the George Williams and Irene Koechig Frieberg Professor of Biology in Arts & Sciences, director of I-CARES and professor of energy in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, said being in Green Hall is very beneficial to the International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability (I-CARES), created in June 2007 to foster research on energy, environment and sustainability that cannot be done by single investigators or by single disciplines alone.
“This is our optimal space for the way we operate,” Pakrasi says. “I-CARES is all about bringing people together from various places. Green Hall is the perfect place to have different groups from different places come to meet.”
Back to News Directory