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Trinity University (San Antonio) Dedicates New Home for the Humanities

Trinity University (San Antonio) Dedicates New Home for the Humanities

Posted: September 30, 2022 | Tradewinds

Trinity University (San Antonio) recently commemorated the grand opening of its newest classroom building. The university hosted a ribbon-cutting celebration for the many generous donors who made this building possible, along with the Board of Trustees, including the city’s mayor and university alumnus, Ron Nirenberg.

The Humanities have been studied for centuries and are alive and flourishing at Trinity. These disciplines, such as English, philosophy, and religion, allow insight into the experiences — past and present — of other societies and individuals. They help us to understand the common ground we share; and they provide a meaningful resource when we are faced with challenges both big and small.

Through Dicke Hall, Trinity is putting a modern spin on how these timeless academic disciplines are explored. The building serves as a gathering place for students and faculty to exchange ideas and gain understanding — concepts that are desperately needed in today’s world. Dicke Hall is the final addition to the university’s Chapman-Halsell-Dicke Complex — the largest construction project the University has undertaken.

Trinity is also proud to feature San Antonio’s first higher education mass timber building. This new, sustainable structure combines beauty and sustainability in a unique structural system that reduces the building’s impact on the environment. It incorporates the latest green solutions and sustainability practices that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), save energy and water, and introduce landscape designs that are 100% native plants.

Dicke Hall is the gateway to the new Business and Humanities District, and establishes a significant urban edge to campus, bridging town and gown and creating a welcoming portal to the broader San Antonio community. The craft of the building’s mass timber structure pays homage to the campus’s mid-century modern design heritage while expressing the university’s forward-looking commitment to innovation in liberal arts education and environmental stewardship.

Advancing a Culture of Sustainability

Trinity’s deep commitment to sustainability has shaped its campus and culture. In 1948, when architect O’Neil Ford surveyed the limestone quarry bluff which was to become the Trinity campus, he rejected the recommendation to level the landscape and instead opted to design the University’s buildings in harmony with its unique topography.

Dicke Hall extends Trinity’s tradition of sustainable building into the 21st century by incorporating the latest green solutions, sustainability practices, and construction methods. San-Antonio-based Lake|Flato are industry leaders in sustainable architecture. Along with construction partner Turner Construction, the project team brought the latest technological innovations to bear in Dicke Hall’s mass timber construction ⸺ which combines beauty and sustainability in a unique structural system that reduces the building’s impact on the environment.

Mass Timber

Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is one of the most important means of slowing global climate change. Wood is a naturally occurring and renewable building material with a lighter carbon footprint than steel or concrete. Since 40% of GHG emissions can be attributed to building use and construction, using mass timber and designing highly efficient buildings like Dicke Hall reduces greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption while modeling responsible stewardship of the environment. The carbon sequestered by Dicke Hall’s mass timber structure is equivalent to 374 acres of US forest for one year.

Dicke Hall is constructed using cross-laminated timber ⸺ treated wood panels that are exceptionally strong and fire resistant. Because the panels are prefabricated and shipped directly to the building site, the construction of Dicke Hall generated virtually no waste. Mass timber also results in less construction time, lower costs, and less construction noise ⸺ all important factors when trying to be a good neighbor to Trinity’s surrounding community and a good steward of the project’s budget and donor contributions.

Biophilia

There is a growing body of data suggesting that user health is tied intrinsically to biophilia, or our connection to nature. Environments that incorporate biophilic design strategies, such as mass timber, result in better physical and mental health, reduce stress, increase productivity and creativity, and reduce absenteeism. Mass timber also adds warmth and tactile textures that connect building users to the natural environment.

Energy

New technology has advanced the energy performance of buildings since the construction of Halsell and Chapman Halls (the buildings being renovated as part of the new Business and Humanities District). By increasing the efficiency of existing historic facades, integrating high-performance radiant cooling and heating systems, and incorporating passive design strategies that maximize daylight and reduce heat gain, Dicke Hall adds 35,000 square feet of usable program while only increasing the energy demand on the Business and Humanities district by 1%. In addition, Dicke Hall’s rooftop photovoltaic array generates 78% of Dicke Hall’s energy. Based on projected data, the building’s ultra-low energy use intensity of 10.5 EUI represents an estimated 90% in energy savings over baseline expectations for a building of this type.

Water

Growing concerns about water scarcity and a focus on the benefits of conservation have increased the relevance of stormwater management and hydrology in building projects. In Dicke Hall, 100% of condensate water is collected and provides 100% of the building’s gray water demand for toilet flushing and landscape watering ⸺ contributing to substantial water savings.

Healthy Environments

Dicke Hall is connected to a new courtyard that offers collaborative areas for students, faculty, and staff. The landscape design incorporates 100% native plants and drought-tolerant grasses that are naturally water-efficient and well-adapted to the Texas climate, including flowering varieties in butterfly gardens. Rain gardens, permeable pavers, and water-wise landscaping will reduce impervious ground cover by 1,735 square feet despite the new building’s footprint of 12,000 square feet.

Views to nature, access to daylight, and fresh, filtered outdoor air will fuel learning and increase alertness, mood, and productivity. 98% of regularly occupied spaces have access to daylight and

views outdoors. All paints, coating, stains, adhesives and other solvents used indoors are free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to maintain optimal air quality.

“This building is an investment in those who matter most — Trinity University’s students,” said Trinity University President Vanessa B. Beasley. “Dicke Hall boldly represents Trinity’s commitment to the Humanities, which are foundational to a modern liberal arts education.”

For more information, visit trinity.edu and lakeflato.com.

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