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STEPS building wins international green design award

Lehigh University’s Science, Technology, Environment, Policy and Society (STEPS) facility has been awarded a 2011 Green Good Design Award for Green Urban Planning/Landscape Architecture by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.
The awards recognize “visionary architects, designers, urban planners, corporations, governments, individuals, and private and public institutions for a design and a public environment based upon the ideals of energy conservation; the reduction of toxic waste and greenhouse gases; the diminishing dependence on fossil fuels; and a sensitivity for waste, pollution, and the depletion of the world’s energy resources.”
Officially opened in August 2010, STEPS is a state-of-the-art facility that brings faculty, staff and students in the fields of engineering and the natural and social sciences together under one roof to work seamlessly across boundaries. The facility reflects Lehigh’s commitment to environmental principles and was designed to meet the standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.
At the very beginning of the design process for STEPS, we as a team were determined to create the first and very best green building possible for Lehigh, which would represent the university's commitment to environmental awareness and responsibility,” says Tony Corallo, associate vice president of facility services and campus planning. “This award is wonderful recognition of the attainment of that goal and for all of the dedicated people that made it happen.
‘Dedicated to the building’s mission’
The 135,000-square-foot building features offices for 80 faculty, staff, and graduate students, 50 research and state-of-the-art teaching labs, as well as 10 classrooms, computer labs, seminar rooms, and a 75-seat auditorium. Anne Meltzer, the Herbert and Ann Siegel Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of earth and environmental sciences, says the facility exceeded expectations, providing superb space for interdisciplinary research and learning and beautiful public space for the larger Lehigh community to gather, meet, and study.
Architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson designed the new facility. The firm has a long relationship of working with Lehigh on campus projects including the university’s Alumni Memorial Parking Structure and Entrance Court, the Campus Square Housing Complex and the Sayre Village Dormitory and Commons.
“The successful outcome of the STEPS building is directly related to the intense collaboration between Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and Lehigh University, particularly the professors, principal investigators, and Facilities personnel at Lehigh who were dedicated to the building’s mission, one that embraces an interdisciplinary approach to learning in an interactive, communal atmosphere,” says Tom Kirk, senior associate at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. “This same team advocated strongly on behalf of the greater mission of stewardship in order to produce a building that utilizes resources intelligently, has extraordinary indoor air quality, and contains interior spaces awash in natural light during the day. We are pleased to have been part of this transformative project for Lehigh University and are honored to receive a 2011 Green Good Design Award for the STEPS building.
STEPS joins a list of 2011 Green Good Design Award winners from around the world for projects such as the Beijing Olympic Forest Park in Beijing, the Swarovski Headquarters in Zurich, and the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre in Cape Town, South Africa.
Tricia Long
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