Social Sciences Building, University of Ottawa
INTERIOR GREEN WALL AWARD
Project: Social Sciences Building, University of Ottawa – 1,300 square foot green wall
Location: Ottawa, ON
Award Winners: Diamond Schmitt Architects (Architect), KWC Architects (Architect) & NEDLAW Living Walls (Green Wall Specialist)
Structural Engineer: Halsall Associates
Mechanical/Electrical Engineer: Goodkey Weedmark Assoc.
Landscape Architect: CSW Landscape Architects
Code & Building Envelope/LEED: Morrison Hershfield
Geotechnical: Golder Assoc.
Architectural Lighting: Ross Nicholson
“The living wall is central to the experience of being in the public space of this 250,000 sf building – it positively affects the light, sound, texture, air and colour of the space. It is key to making it a place where the university students and faculty want to spend time.” – Sarah Low, associate at Diamond Schmitt Architects.
Education to Grow at the U of O
The new Social Sciences Building at the University of Ottawa serves as a gateway from the city and emphasizes connectivity with the campus. The building creates a prominent landmark on the campus and in the city with a design response that addresses the challenge of its dense urban site.
With nine faculties and 10,000 students, the Social Sciences Building provides sizeable circulation and public amenity space. Central to this configuration are two atria; one contains the largest biofilter living wall in North America. This six-storey-high wall of tropical plants is not only a stunning interior feature but also a component of the building’s sustainable design toolkit. The Social Sciences building achieved a LEED Gold certification in September 2014.
The irrigation system is vertical hydroponics. The base of the living wall acts as a water catchment that drains to a reservoir located on the floor below. The inline pumps acting in a lead-lag configuration lift the water from the reservoir to the top of the wall where a diffuser spreads the water evenly across the top. Water then trickles down through the growth media to the catchment. A separate electronic system maintains reservoir volume.
The living wall has the potential to provide 75 to 80 percent of the building’s fresh air intake requirement, thereby enhancing air quality. This significantly improves energy performance in the heating and cooling seasons for fresh air over and above ASHRAE 62.1 requirements since the air is pre-tempered. According to the university, by integrating the biofilter they were able to reduce the capital cost of the project by more than the cost of the green wall since they did not need to bring steam into the building.
This commitment to a striking, sustainable design has resulted in numerous profiles in prominent publications, which serves to further the information sharing and education process.