Green Roofs Cap UA's $14.6M Hillside Auditorium Project

by George Waldon  on Monday, Jul. 23, 2012 12:00 am  

A rendering of the University of Arkansas' Hillside Auditorium on Dickson Street in Fayetteville captures a southern perspective of the three-tiered green roof construction.

The Hillside Auditorium taking shape in Fayetteville is adding some new twists to green construction in Arkansas. Budgeted at $14.6 million, the project on the campus of the University of Arkansas features a three-tiered roof design that will support trees, shrubbery, ornamental grasses and other plantings.

The configuration reflects a design vision that melds topography with structure in a form tied together by man-manipulated greenery.

The 35,150-SF building will house two auditoriums (auditoria in collegiate Latin parlance) with fixed seating for 455 and 296.

The Hillside Auditorium will be crowned with an event pavilion supported by a catering kitchen and enclosed on three sides by high-efficiency glazing that opens to a 6,800-SF green rooftop highlighted by a stand of Athena elms.

The hardy shade tree is noted for its thick, rounded foliage. This lacebark hybrid sports glossy green leaves that turn to yellow in the fall.

"What makes the space underneath unique are two auditoria with long structural spans and no columns," said Todd Shafer, associate with Perry Dean Rogers Partners Architects of Boston, the design architect.

"We wanted to downplay the building and establish more of a natural look. That really drove the design to have three green roofs that tie into the building and the terrain itself."

The middle section accounts for most of the remaining 11,500 SF of green roof, a surface area capable of bearing up to 9 inches of soil and landscaping.

The building is registered to attain a Silver LEED certification rating with an energy-saving amenity lineup that includes a high-efficiency HVA system, LED lighting and high-performance glass that allows daylighting in the main lobby between the two auditoriums.

John Allison, the project's architect of record, said the scale and multilevel aspect of the Hillside Auditorium's green roof set it apart from other Arkansas efforts.

"I'm not sure if there is anything as extensive as this in the state," said Allison, president of John Allison Architects Inc. of Little Rock. "When we started, there weren't many green roofs around here. I wouldn't be surprised if it was the biggest in Arkansas.

"It's a great project. It's one of those that we will have great satisfaction in once it's up and running."

The project was originally envisioned for completion in August, in time to accommodate fall classes. However, the timetable has shifted toward October because of delays associated with the foundation work.

"Atypical construction goes slower than you expect," said Shawn Luther, landscape architect with Development Consultants Inc. of Little Rock. "It's complicated and has to look a certain way. It's going to look great, but it's very atypical.

"From a landscaping perspective, we'd prefer to finish in October because August is the worst time to plant."

Rounding out the Hillside Auditorium design team, which included the Allison firm, DCI and Perry Dean Rogers, is the OLIN firm of Philadelphia.

The renowned studio, which wrote the book on green roof systems, did the conceptual landscape design of the project. OLIN partner Susan Weiler was the lead writer of "Green Roof Systems: A Guide to the Planning, Design, and Construction of Landscapes Over Structure."

The team was among 13 that vied for the project and among the final five interviewed by a UA selection committee. The Little Rock general contracting firm of James H. Cone Inc. is overseeing construction.

Olin and Development Consultants Inc. are working together to produce a landscape design manual for the University of Arkansas. Allison and Perry Dean Rogers worked together on the design of the UA's Willard J. Walker Hall.

Sight Concerns for Site

The site location influenced the university's desire that a green roof be included in the Hillside Auditorium's design.

The project is east of the iconic Chi Omega Greek Theatre, built in 1930 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Options for new construction were weighed against how it would affect views of the campus landmark.

"These restrictions, which are unique to this site, led us to set the building into the hillside and plant the roof in order to minimize its mass and visual impact on such a sensitive setting," said Jill Anthes, campus planner at the University of Arkansas.

"The resulting building leaves views to and from the theater open. For these reasons, the green roof was an integral part of the project concept from the beginning."

The Hillside Auditorium will replace two buildings on the University of Arkansas campus: the 372-seat Science Engineering Auditorium built near the top of the slope in 1964 and the Geology Building below it.

Built in 1947, the Geology Building originally was known as the Ordark (Ordinance Arkansas) Building. It was developed as a joint project with the U.S. military and was used to conduct chemical, physical and engineering research under military supervision until 1958.



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