Greenhill School has provided a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum to students in the Dallas area since 1950. Today, the private school in Addison, Texas serves approximately 1,350 students in Pre-K through 12th grades. When Greenhill recognized the need for a modern facility to teach and inspire students in the areas of science, engineering, technology, and mathematics they went to architecture firm, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. The result is the new 52,000-square-foot Valdes STEM + Innovation Center.
“This new STEM facility will help our students become innovators, entrepreneurs, collaborators, and problem solvers, as they pursue exciting new pathways in science, technology, engineering, and math.”
– Lee Hark, Greenhill Head of School
DBR began work on the design of the new facility in May of 2021. We were excited to help Greenhill to meet their goal to create a state-of-the-art STEM learning facility with a low carbon footprint. The Valdes Center is intended to inspire innovation and therefore the building itself was intended to be a model of innovative, progressive design. The new facility features a mass timber structure, which significantly reduces the embodied carbon of the structure and provides opportunities to expose the structure. Exposing the structure also lead to some interesting opportunities with the MEP systems.
A raised floor system is featured throughout most of the building, allowing for the exposure of the wood structure overhead. Underfloor air distribution is used, which allows for efficient air distribution and the maximum number of temperature control zones. The raised floor plenum is used to route electrical conduits, plumbing piping, and low-voltage cabling for data, AV, and security systems.
A shop space was created in the building for various technical curriculum opportunities. Transformers were provided to deliver 230V and 240V power to specific equipment loads. Compressed air and dust collection systems were provided with outlets throughout the shop.
Audio-visual systems were provided to inspire and enable student presentations. Flexible AV presentation spaces feature mobile interactive displays, local sound systems, wireless connectivity, and local AV controls.
The existing fiber optic cable plant on the site was routed through the footprint of the new building. We provided new underground duct banks to re-route the cable plant and extended the fiber cabling to the existing MDF rooms and to the new building to allow integration of the telecom and fire alarm systems with Greenhill’s existing networks. The main electrical equipment is located in the basement of the building. Due to the potential risk of flooding, our team coordinated with the construction team to detail the sealing of wall penetrations and the use of water-tight conduits, turning the basement into a storm shelter. A standby generator set was provided with an enclosure to meet ICC 500 requirements.
Energy-efficient equipment and systems were prioritized to minimize the operational carbon footprint of the building. The predicted EUI for the Valdes Center is 14.6 kBTU/sf/yr. This represents a 73% improvement over the minimum energy code requirements. Solar thermal collectors are provided to supplement the domestic water heating load. Solar photovoltaic modules are also provided to offset a portion of the building’s electricity. A high-efficiency air-cooled chiller charges an ice bank thermal storage system which is used to reduce the peak electrical demand.
The excitement is building at Greenhill School for the completion of the Valdes STEM + Innovation Center later this year. We are proud of our efforts to reduce the carbon emissions associated with this facility as an example to the students and the community.