R.W. Kern Center

R.W. Kern Center

Architect
Bruner/Cott & Associates
Location
Amherst, United States | View Map
Project Year
2016
Category
Universities
Stories By
Bruner/Cott & Associates

Bensonwood
Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct Name
Heat PumpsMitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US
FW+ Si Aluminum CurtainwallSCHÜCO
TransformerABB
Miscelaneous SteelAccufab
Light FixtureAlight
Polypropelene PipeAquatherm

Product Spec Sheet
FW+ Si Aluminum Curtainwall
by SCHÜCO
Transformer
by ABB
Miscelaneous Steel
by Accufab
Light Fixture
by Alight
Polypropelene Pipe

R.W. Kern Center

Bruner/Cott & Associates as Architects

The R.W. Kern Center at Hampshire College is about much more than making a good impression on prospective students. Designed to be entirely self-sustaining and meet the rigorous requirements of the Living Building Challenge, the Kern Center aims to make a lasting impression on all who enter by demonstrating Hampshire’s commitment to a sustainable future and inspiring the next generation of leaders in environmentally conscious practices.


The building is prominently sited on Hampshire’s campus and serves as a welcome center for staff, students, and their families. The central floor-to-ceiling glass pavilion maintains a connection to the outdoors and serves as a hub of campus activity with a common area, community living room, and café on the ground floor and gallery above. Two stone-clad wings house admissions and financial aid offices and classrooms with views of the amphitheater, rainwater harvesting reservoirs, solar farm, and wildflower meadow.


With a solar canopy to generate electricity, the rainwater harvesting system for net-zero water, and exposed walls in the mechanical rooms, the building itself serves as a learning and teaching laboratory. Daily tours and signage give students and visitors the opportunity to participate in collecting and analyzing data regarding green building practices. New classes are built around the teaching opportunities the living building makes available, inspiring the kind of inquiry and stewardship embodied in Hampshire’s philosophy of contributing to knowledge, justice, and positive change in the world.


Selected from over 40 entries in a design competition, Bruner/Cott’s plan rerouted a corporate campus drive, replaced it with the wildflower meadow, and created a human-centered landscape with the Kern Center as the new heart of the campus. Using local stone and wood, the building emphasizes the importance of the relationship between indoors, and the plaza and landscaping around the building encourages people to enjoy being outside and around the building, not just inside it. All building materials are Red List compliant, avoiding products made with toxic chemicals, to make the center the healthiest possible working and learning environment for students and staff.


“The R.W. Kern Center provides a model for addressing global challenges and a symbol of the positive change possible in how we approach built environments.” -Jonathan Lash, President, Hampshire College

R.W. Kern Center

Bensonwood as Manufacturers

Bensonwood provided the essential large timber and CLT engineering, and provided the building shell package, and the CLT decking for the 17,000-square-foot Kern Center @ Hampshire College. .


One of just twelve Living Building Challenge buildings in the United States, it generates its own electricity (via a rooftop solar array), treats its own waste, avoids all Red List materials, sources locally wherever possible, and collects its own water, meeting a stringent net-zero standard. The Kern Center stands as a beautiful example challenging the myth that green means sacrifice. Its design and execution show that a building can use fewer resources while reduce its carbon footprint, and also be incredibly sexy and rich.


Nordic provided the impressive CLT heavy timbers we used for this new campus centerpin, which houses the college's admissions and financial aid offices, classrooms, social and gathering areas and a cafe. Designed by Bruner-Cott Architects, Visitors to the building will notice how they can speak softer and hear better because of the naturally dampened acoustics enabled by wood


Why use sustainably-harvested timbers and engineered woods for this project? 1. WOOD STORES CARBON. Trees need CO2 to grow. They have the unique ability to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and store it long-term in their fiber. To combat climate change effectively, trees should be harvested at maturity when CO2 absorption is at its peak. 2. WOOD IS RENEWABLE. Wood is the only building material that grows naturally and can be replenished. Wood product certification emerged in the 1990’s to develop guidelines for responsible forest management. The net growth of harvestable timbers in North America has grown by billions of feet a year since 1920, while the removals have been reduced both proportionately and overall. Every year for the last 50 years, less than 2% of the standing tree inventory in the US was harvested wile net growth was 3%. 3. WOOD HAS A LOWER ENERGY IMPACT. Not only does it take less energy to produce timber, but also the net CO2 emissions of wood products are negative. Timber is a single source material. Steel and concrete require significantly more fossil fuels to extract the needed raw materials, and for the numerous processes to manufacture. Why live and work in places with timber? 1. WOOD’S ENERGY EFFICIENCY. Wood is significantly more thermally efficient than steel or concrete. Wood’s cellular structure contains air pockets that limit the ability to conduct heat. The precise manufacturing of CLT and other engineered timber limits air leakage. The result is a comfortable room climate that requires less energy to maintain. 2. WOOD’S DURABILITY AND STRENGTH. Unlike concrete and steel, timber construction is lightweight, ductile, and dimensionally stable, and expands and contracts minimally. 3. WOOD’S FIRE RESISTANCE. Timber won’t ignite until it reaches more than 480ºF. When it catches fire, it develops a protective char layer. Large timber beams have better fire resistance than unprotected steel beams of similar size because timber’s interior remains much cooler. Timber can take the heat. While timber stays strong, steel weakens as its temperature exceeds 450ºF. At 1400ºF steel retains only 10% of its strength. Why construct with timber? 1. WOOD IS FASTER TO BUILD WITH. 2. WOOD REQUIRES SMALLER FOUNDATIONS. 3. WOOD MAKES PREFABRICATION POSSIBLE. 4. WOOD STORES MORE CARBON. 5. WOOD IS A BETTER INSULATOR. 6. WOOD CAUSES FEWER LOCAL IMPACTS. 7. WOOD BUILDING REQUIRES SMALLER CREWS.

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