The South Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA-SC) presented its highest design award for Converse College’s The Heath apartment housing, a LEED-certified project by architectural firm LS3P, during its Spring Conference Awards Gala on May 4 in Charleston, SC. The Heath garnered both The President’s Award and a Merit Design Award during the event.
“The Heath provides a sense of community for students who enjoy living and learning together in a highly interactive lifestyle.”
The Heath, a $12.3 million project, opened in January 2011 as part of a 10-year master housing plan that will impact every residence hall on campus, creating progressively independent living environments that balance community and connectedness with the development of autonomy and independence. Inside The Heath are three distinctive floor plans, featuring a kitchen, living room and options for single or double rooms. Common areas are designed to integrate residential living with academic and social events that bring all members of the greater Converse community together. “The Heath provides a sense of community for students who enjoy living and learning together in a highly interactive lifestyle,” said Chuck Hultstrand, a principal with LS3P. “The architecture captures the heritage of the historic campus while using contemporary details that express the current campus vision.” “The planning process was marked by a distinctive and thoughtful approach that supports Converse’s strategic goals of advancing community and creativity,” said Converse president Betsy Fleming. Student input was prioritized throughout the project through focus groups, surveys, and their participation on project committees. “The significant level of their involvement strengthened the finished product,” Fleming said. Students also left their mark on the new construction by signing a beam that was installed in the facility. The Heath is Converse’s second LEED-certified building project, following the renovation of Kuhn Hall in 2009. AIA South Carolina (AIA/SC) is a Chapter and statewide component of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) with over 900 members throughout the state. Nationally, AIA is compromised of over 80,000 licensed architects, emerging professionals and allied partners who are committed to excellence in design and livability in our nation’s buildings and communities. LS3P is an architecture, interior architecture and planning firm providing services nationwide from their offices in South Carolina and North Carolina. The combined offices have received over 400 awards for excellence in design. Their mission is to engage clients and communities, to design meaningful places, with proven results that transform.
Sustainable Features of The Heath
The Heath was designed to meet LEED certification standards. Key sustainable principles incorporated into the project include site selection, energy performance, water use reduction and material selection and promotion of a sustainable lifestyle.
The buildings are constructed on an underutilized lawn and parking lot. The site is adjacent to a landscaped park featuring the College’s historic Log Cabin and outdoor amphitheater. Originally, Converse planned to build the apartments in the park area. However, during the design process the site was shifted away from the park and over to the existing parking lot. This allowed for preservation of the natural park setting, including saving the historic trees in that area of the campus.
Energy & Water Conservation
Energy consumption is reduced by the use of energy-efficient HVAC with local controls in each apartment, operable windows in all major living spaces, occupancy sensors and occupant lighting controls. Water conservation is enhanced by the use of low-flow water closets, shower heads and kitchen faucets and ultra-low-flow vanity faucets.
Many of the materials selected for this project are regional. Converse made a concerted effort to use local products and vendors wherever possible. Approximately 25% of the building materials are regionally produced including Brick Masonry, Structural Steel, Aluminum Framing & Metal Stud Framing. Thirteen percent of the building materials contain recycled content including structural steel, MDF Core and Melamine used for cabinetry, and exterior gypsum board.
The project promotes sustainable lifestyles by implementing a residential recycling program, reserved parking for fuel-efficient vehicles and covered bicycle storage. The careful use of site orientation and windows provides 90% of the regularly occupied spaces with natural day-lighting and 97% of the occupied spaces with direct views to the outside. The project includes a water fountain with an integral bottle filler that can calculate how many plastic water bottles are being saved by refilling existing containers.
Green Cleaning Plan for The Heath Residents
Why Green on the Converse Campus? At Converse, it is our policy to build and maintain sustainable buildings. To that end, Converse encourages students to use green cleaning practices inside their residences. Benefits include:
- Healthy buildings make healthy students. Improved air quality increases productivity, decreases absenteeism and maintains health.
- Health benefits for custodial staff. Using green cleaning products and procedures decrease exposure to chemicals, hazardous products and injury.
- Environmental benefits. Sustainable cleaning procedures also contribute to an increased lifespan of the campus facilities by reducing damage and premature aging. Last, but not least, it helps to preserve the environment by using products that are biodegradable, non ozone depleting and have reduced packaging.