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Future-Oriented Business School Complex at University of Cincinnati Showcases BuroHappold’s Innovative Design and Analysis Approaches

Future-Oriented Business School Complex at University of Cincinnati Showcases BuroHappold’s Innovative Design and Analysis Approaches

By C.C. Sullivan

BuroHappold Engineering, a world-class global practice creating solutions for buildings, campuses and cities, in October announced the opening of the Carl H. Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati.

The much-anticipated new building – conceived by Danish firm Henning Larsen on a campus known for innovative academic and campus life environments – includes an expansive atrium, two spacious courtyards, and flexible areas for informal meetings and interdisciplinary education among students, researchers and business leaders, all reflecting the university’s project-based learning approach and enriching academic life with daylight and inspiring spaces.

The 225,000-square-foot construction project, overseen by Turner Construction Co. and designed by Henning Larsen and Cincinnati-based architect KZF Design, reflects a global vision from the Copenhagen-based architects and supported by BuroHappold’s U.S. team in the cultural and educational sectors.

Among the challenges for the $120 million complex, which broke ground in May 2017 and opens on schedule and on budget in October, are a novel cantilevered structural system to bridge existing site utilities that cross the site as well as the interior’s airy and daylight drenched four-story atrium connecting labs, study zones, and faculty office areas. The completed building is tracking to meet rigorous green-building criteria for LEED version 4.0 Gold certification.

BuroHappold has harnessed a powerful suite of analytical tools to inform the design process for daylight evaluation, dynamic thermal modeling, people flow modeling and energy modeling, says Matthew Herman, a principal in the firm’s Chicago office. A fourth tool, computational fluid dynamics, or CFD, predicted the movement of air and heat inside the complex building as well as wind impacts on its exterior.

“Together, these four tools provide institutions like the University of Cincinnati and their architects an unparalleled understanding of how to minimize energy use while ensuring the comfort and enjoyment of students and faculty over the life of the investment,” Herman said.

Inside the Lindner College of Business building, the large atrium creates connected spaces for informal meetings and flexible teaching and study facilities, emphasizing the university’s project-based approach to learning. Photo: Alex Fradkin

According to Henning Larsen, “We designed the Lindner College of Business with the ambition of creating an open and generous addition to the campus. In a field where creating personal networks is so important, we considered it essential to create an institution that values educational excellence and social wellness equally. We are enormously proud of not just the building, but also of the close collaboration with the university and design partners that made it possible.”

As design engineer for this advanced academic community, BuroHappold collaborated with the design team and consultants including PEDCO (mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems) and Woolpert (structures) to resolve a number of critical challenges:

  • To allow drainage of a nearby creek bed and protect an old brick conduit, BuroHappold helped devise a structural cantilever, hidden amid the base of the new Lindner College of Business, according to the firm’s associate Andy Rastetter, P.E., and associate principal Phil Skellorn.
  • Inside the new building, the large atrium creates connected spaces for informal meetings and flexible teaching and study facilities, emphasizing the university’s project-based approach to learning. To ensure the vast open interior meets both campus energy goals and safety needs for smoke evacuation, BuroHappold engineers devised a performance-based solution in conjunction with local officials to manage smoke exhaust systems.
  • For the green roof and its large areas of plantings and gardens, structural engineers at BuroHappold modeled the roof slopes and access points, which are critical to ensure robust roof design and function. In addition, a unique truss system at the roof level supports lower parts of the structure, which are hung off the truss, according to BuroHappold’s structural engineer, Rastetter.

“We’ve matched the University of Cincinnati’s commendable environmental targets by delivering a low energy strategy integrated with the architectural intent,” said BuroHappold’s Herman, who oversaw the BuroHappold team. “By using radiant surfaces combined with controlled introduction of fresh air, the academic community benefits from the openness of the building atrium and light wells to draw in sunlight and air, creating a productive and engaging environment ideal for a business school.”

Among the offerings to serve some 5,000 students at the Lindner College of Business are the large courtyards and atrium, more than 240 faculty office spaces, a 150-seat, two-story lecture hall, a 250-seat auditorium, research labs, open workspaces, exam and tutoring areas, huddle and breakout rooms.

“This new work represents a major milestone for our college as we collaboratively build the future of business education here in Cincinnati,” said David Szymanski, dean of the Lindner College of Business. “Our College’s community has worked diligently to ensure this building serves as a tremendous catalyst for a continued ascension to preeminence.”

The design team’s various engineering advances have been essential to creating this “infrastructural and social gathering point” envisioned by Henning Larsen for the university’s growing West Campus. The new college also represents the continuation of an ambitious campus master plan developed over a decade ago by university leadership and Hargreaves Associates, a planner and landscape architect – a plan still advancing the institutional mission and attracting many internationally recognized architects.

“As an urban university, we have a commitment to not only educate the future workforce but to partner in ways that advance the entire community,” said Neville Pinto, president of the University of Cincinnati. “The new facility [serves as] a 21st-century hub for our students, faculty, and Greater Cincinnati business community, providing a collaborative space for education, research, and innovation to thrive.”

Chris Sullivan is founder of the marketing, content and public relations agency C.C. Sullivan, which serves clients in architecture, arts, construction, real estate, urbanism, cycling and other markets. With experience in print, broadcast, online and face-to-face media, Chris works with clients in Chicago, New York, Phoenix and Los Angeles on integrated messaging, PR, marketing, content and business development programs. Before founding C.C. Sullivan, Chris was chief editor at Architecture and BD+C magazines and previously worked for architects in New York City and Madrid, Spain.