Northwestern School of Law at
Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR, is considered one
of the countrys top environmental law schools. The school
is situated next to a state park and overlooks a forest of
evergreens. Naturally then, a green building would be only
fitting for such a green environment.
The law school is located about one-quarter mile from the
main college campus. Construction was completed in January
on remodeling of the existing 25,000-square-foot library and
an additional 40,000 square feet for library use, classrooms
and offices. One of the primary goals of the architects, Soderstrom
Architects, P.C., Portland, was to create a building that
interacts with nature. The way in which the wind blows, the
angle of the sun and the slope of the hillside all affected
Six Submissions to
the annual "What Makes It Green?" exhibit.
We did not want the expansion to intrude into the forest
and necessitate cutting down many trees, says Jon Wiener,
partner, Soderstrom Architects. So we placed the building
on an old service drive and created a three-story structure to minimize
the size of the footprint. The curved façade of the building
is in response to the slope of the site. We also extended the existing
circulation paths and enhanced special outdoor spaces.
As they worked to preserve the site, the architects also strived
to include its natural beauty in their design. A two-story reading
room in the renovated library overlooks the forest. Soaring windows
bring in the view as well as an abundance of natural light. Solar
activated sunshades and carefully selected high-performance glazing
reduce glare. The use of artificial lighting is minimized with daylighting
controls and curved ceilings that bounce daylight into the center
of the building.
Because of the regions mild climate, natural ventilation was
the obvious choice for maintaining a comfortable environment within
the building. Therefore, the architects ensured the buildings
correct orientation on the site in order to take advantage of the
breeze whenever possible. Operable windows, along with an automated
vent at the roof monitor that opens when the HVAC system shuts down,
minimize the need for artificial cooling. The HVAC equipment features
a water-cooled chiller rather than air cooled, and high-tech controls
maximize efficiency. Moreover, sunshades, glazing and a reflective
roof membrane help reduce both heat gain and heat loss.
To protect indoor air quality, toxic construction materials were
avoided. Instead, the architects chose low VOC paints and glues
and installed high quality air filters in the HVAC system.
Many construction materials came from renewable sources. Ceiling
tile and gypsum board are made from recycled newsprint; wood veneers
are from certified sustainable forests; linoleum, made from linseed
oil and wood flour, was used for the flooring; and fly ash, a waste
bi-product, is in the concrete. Furthermore, 98 percent of the construction
debris was sorted and recycled.
This project reduced the number of parking spaces at the Law School,
thereby encouraging more students to use mass transit. There is
a bus stop adjacent to the site, and the college provides a shuttle
service to off-site parking, as well as downtown Portland and student
neighborhoods. By reducing the dependence on private cars, pollution
Reducing pollution also included dealing with storm water. The sites
steep slope ruled out swales, so an underground tank was used. The
tank allows sediment to settle and the water temperature to cool
to appropriate levels.
Around the site, non-native, invasive plants, such as ivy and blackberries,
were removed from the forest and replaced with indigenous evergreen
plants. Small areas of eco-roofs symbolically integrate the forest
into the building.