DePaul University's New Science Building

Staff | September 28, 2010

In Chicago, DePaul University's Lincoln Park Campus recently opened the doors of the new Monsignor Andrew J. McGowan Science Building. The new building will be the new home for the chemistry, environmental sciences and biological sciences departments.

The new building took nearly five years of planning and construction to complete. Construction began in June 2007. General contractor Bulley & Andrews was able to complete the construction in only 18 months — a feat in itself considering the complexity of the new science center.

"We're very pleased with our new science building," says Robert Janis, vice president, facilities operations at DePaul. "The end result was a success largely due to our general contractor's careful planning, expert coordination and commitment to the budget."

Designed by Antunovich Associates, the new science building was constructed on the site formerly occupied by the Stuart Center, DePaul's previous cafeteria and student center. With brick masonry and stone used on the exterior façade of the building, it blends in with the rich architecture in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood.

In total, the facility contains nearly 130,000 square feet, which will allow for substantial growth. Allowing all three science disciplines to function under one roof, the new building houses classrooms, academic office space, laboratories, and greenhouses.

With the ambitious goal to become LEED certified, all parties involved remained focused on this goal throughout the duration of the project. Knowing early on that the typical laboratory uses as much as 10 times more energy and water than an office building of comparable size, DePaul University recognized the benefits of incorporating advanced, environmentally preferred building technologies for the new science center.

Recycling was a key factor in the construction of the science center. During construction, Bulley & Andrews utilized over 26 percent of recycled materials, while also recycling 82 percent of the construction waste instead of sending it to a landfill. Additionally, more than 45 percent of the materials used in the construction were manufactured within 500 miles of the building, thus reducing the negative environmental impacts associated with transportation while also supporting the local economy.

The building contains energy-efficient lighting and windows; high-efficiency boilers, motors and pumps; and an exhaust air energy recovery system. These elements make the building 24 percent more efficient than a conventional building, and create energy savings for the university of approximately $78,000 per year.

For additional future savings to the university, the new science center was constructed with highly reflective roofing materials along with a partially vegetated roof surface and reflective paving to reduce heat absorption. Reflecting the heat lessens the heat island effect and reduces surrounding air temperatures.

To reduce water consumption, the landscaping around the building includes only indigenous and climate-appropriate vegetation. Because of this, no permanent irrigation system is required. Furthermore, roughly 20 percent of the project site is open space for vegetation, allowing habitat for local wildlife, much needed in its urban setting.

To continue the direction established during the building's design and construction, DePaul's staff has developed a green housekeeping plan to maintain a healthy indoor environment.

"Our general contractor's commitment to helping us plan for LEED certification was important to the project's success," says Janis. "As a result, the students, faculty and staff at DePaul University are now able to enjoy the academic advantages of a new, state-of-the-art facility and the health and well-being benefits of a green building."