The site of the Hill Center is adjacent to the existing campus of the College which is, itself, situated within a New York City Historic District (Clinton Hill). While the new 30,000 sf building is not located within that historic district, it borders an adjacent historic district to the West. Its location was deemed important both as an EXTENSION of the existing campus and as an important infill structure within this urban context. Out of a sense of environmental stewardship, the College established a goal of LEED Silver as a baseline target for the building and is currently targeting LEED Gold for New Construction.
With the Athletic Director’s close collaboration, we were able to provide large areas of east facing glass starting 12’ above the gymnasium floor. The interior is shielded from glare by the exterior louvers (vertical, effective when the sun moves to the south off the horizon), interior shading blinds and high performance glass which eliminates heat buildup due to radiation off of interior surfaces. Additionally, we have provided smaller window “portals” of varying heights at the sidewalk to encourage passersby to look in without distracting players on the court. On the floors above, similar east facing glass with an outside deck offer remarkable views of the New York City Skyline to the north and west. Glazing of the entry lobby creates a dynamic and daylight-filled interior which provides borrowed light to adjacent rooms and encourages use of the monumental stair that rises within this volume of space.
The building has large spaces which generally accommodate the uses for which they were designed. However, as the only physical activity center on campus, every space has also been laid out to accommodate alternate uses. To that end, the Gymnasium provides both the regulation game court for basketball as well as two non-regulation courts overlaid on that floor to be used for practice. The gym has also been designed for Volleyball (games and practice) and various practice types including batting cages and tennis. Elsewhere, spaces in the building were conceived both as classroom/meeting rooms and spaces for use by the athletic staff. The building is classified as a classroom building with an auxiliary athletic use. The site is built out to its maximum Floor Area and Height so there are no expansion plans.
The building is equipped with a sophisticated Building Management System which is controlled centrally by network connection by the Building Engineer. This system delivers air/heat/cooling via a central duct trunk and local fan coil units each controlled by local thermostats. That local control combined with a networked BMS system permits the building engineer to provide speedy response to local need should it require a local override. The system is also designed to permit pre-cooling of the large spaces to avoid sudden high demand and sequencing in the control cycle to avoid the running of equipment unnecessarily during non-peak times. An energy recovery system also ensures that energy from exhausted air is recovered for use on the supply side. The College has engaged in a Green Power Energy Program through the local utility (ConEdison). All lighting (including the gym) is controlled by energy sensors to insure that spaces are not unnecessarily lit and energy wasted.
Materials and Construction protocols established in the bid documents insured that the building followed LEED guidelines for reconstituted, recycled, locally sourced, low-waste by-product and Green certified materials. All wood flooring is FSC-certified, sustainably harvested and locally produced. Materials and Construction protocols were reviewed, certified and recorded by a third party LEED management consultant overseeing the General Contractor and hired by the College to complete the LEED certification process.
The design team has had the privilege of working with the College on this and other projects for over 25 years. In that time, we have been able to help the school move toward a higher level of environmental responsibility in the design, construction and maintenance of its buildings and open space. The Hill Center marks a new age in this regard. It will be the first new construction on the Brooklyn Campus in over 40 years and the first LEED certified building on either of the College’s two campuses (here in Brooklyn and in Patchogue, Suffolk County, New York). As such, the experiences here have inspired the school to examine its campus wide practices in exterior lighting, landscaping, trash collection and recycling, electrical consumption, material product types for new furnishings and interior finishes. They are on the cusp of developing a campus wide LEED inspired maintenance master plan to bundle the efforts under way and mandated by the LEED certification at the Hill Center with their other work elsewhere on the campus. In its open face and fresh community oriented programming, the building also serves as an example of its ongoing commitment to serve its immediate neighbors with access and programming.