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2015 AIA COTE Top 10: University Center - The New School

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Buro Happold

Year Completed



375,000 sq. feet

Construction Cost


Certifications and Designations

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Project Description


The University Center uses both low- and high-tech solutions to focus on saving energy. The envelope of the building is limited to 35% glass, which decreases solar heat gain while optimizing interior daylighting. The project employs heat recovery wheels that recover heat from exhaust air and aid in heating supply air. A green roof captures water and mitigates heat island effect. Storm water capturing and both gray- and black-water treatment facilities in the building reduce water consumption while waterless urinals contribute to potable water conservation. A cogeneration plant is located in the penthouse roof. Overall, the LEED Gold building is projected to perform 31.2% better than required by code (ASHRAE 90.1-2007).


This is a successful urban building that uses manipulation of the building form to support the sustainability agenda. The integrations of daylighting into the façade and the incorporation of the primary stairway into the façade are important moves that encourage an active design strategy. Formal manipulation of the building's skin was integrated into the design process early on to help study daylight performance. The view glass and the daylight glass were thoughtfully placed in such a way to maximize their effectiveness at the lowest construction and energy costs. It is a complex client that to respond to multiple programmatic needs. These were combined into a memorable urban campus of the 21st century. It replaced a building that was poorly utilizing that location and intensified the use of a dense urban setting. Glazing was judiciously used to create a dramatic connection to the neighborhood, and to harvest daylight and create views from all of the rooms. Overall, it performs like a building with a small window-to-wall ratio, but feels like a building with a high window-to-wall ratio.


    Estimated % of occupants using public transit/cycling/walking: 98%
  • Lighting power density (watts per square-foot): 0.93 watts/sf
  • Reduction of regulated potable water: 31% 
  • Total EUI (kBtu per square-foot per year): 64
  • Net EUI (kBtu per square-foot per year): 64
  • Percent Reduction from National Median EUI for Building Type: 51%
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