The Lavin-Bernick Center at Tulane University

The Lavin-Bernick Center at Tulane University

The Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life at Tulane University is built on the same site as the old university center. The building was stripped to its concrete structure and then expanded by 33%. Moses Engineers provided all mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP) and fire protection systems for this building. The building includes meeting spaces, specialized work spaces, a new 20,000 sq. ft. bookstore and an extensive food court.

A key element of this project was the embodiment of environmental goals.  Even though the building is located in the hot, humid climate of New Orleans, the new building is designed for passive cooling five months out of the year. The combination of daylighting with shading and ventilation mixed in with radiant cooling provide the ability to cool the building without always using mechanical systems.

The ventilation system utilizes a chimney effect to heat up the air in two roof top mounted chimney stacks that draw air through the building via specially designed corridors. An automatic window and door opening system provides the supply air throughout portions of the building. This serves to minimize energy usage while promoting student interaction and social mixing. This ventilation system is similar to the traditional Indian system Punkah

Another key mechanical design element is the waterwall. This wall consists of utilizing return chilled water to cool spaces via large slow moving fans while removing humidity from the air. To replenish this special pool of water, the building’s air handling units’ condenser water drains are piped into the waterwall pool basins.

This project was chosen as an AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Project for 2008 for its “thermal zoning, technically innovative variable shading, moving air and radiant cooling.” This project serves as a model for sustainable design in New Orleans.

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