From the beginning, the design team behind the Convent of the Sacred Heart’s new Athletics & Wellness Center was committed to supporting the institution’s overarching goal of inspiring environmental stewardship in their K-12 student body. That commitment has resulted in a state-of-the-art facility that also acts as a teaching tool. From the solar hot water system’s accessible array of evacuated tube collectors to the lobby’s forthcoming digital display of real-time environmental performance data, learning opportunities abound in the new center.
Since the building’s opening in September 2014, BKSK partners-in-charge Julie Nelson and Joan Krevlin, as well as Sustainable Design Director Jennifer Preston, have returned to the school to talk with students about their new LEED Gold registered athletics center.
At an assembly with the full middle school, Julie, Joan, and Jen introduced students to some of the more noticeable sustainable design choices: Solatube skylights in the locker rooms; weight room flooring made from recycled tires; and the use of selective illumination levels and sensors to stay within the center’s lighting budget. For a presentation to the upper school, Julie dove deeper into the variables of those choices, explaining how sustainability is multifaceted and site specific; there is no “one size fits all” solution. Three upper school engineering classes got an insider’s walkthrough of the full design and construction process, including a peek at the building’s final drawing set.
In every session, students asked a range of perceptive questions, particularly in regards to solar energy demands at night and during cloudy days. Discussions also touched on the topic of careers in the building industry, particularly in the context of this project, which featured female leadership from multiple disciplines. BKSK’s J-name trio made it clear to the all-female student body that women are behind some of most remarkable projects being built today.