Leers Weinzapfel Associates

Leers Weinzapfel Associates



Collaborative Research Building

The Collaborative Research Building will be the cornerstone for a new science campus at the site of a former airfield two miles north of the main Chapel Hill campus, and will gather one thousand researchers in the Health, Environmental, and Bio-Research areas together in a cross-disciplinary collaborative environment.

The design creates a new model for academic space “without borders” between research units. An open six-story atrium joins two distinct areas. On the north side of the atrium, shared meeting rooms, breakout spaces, and lounges create a destination for all of the research units to collaborate. On the south side of the atrium, individual work spaces include open clusters of work stations with integrated informal shared areas, and private offices. Flooded with daylight, the atrium with its connecting stairs, bridges, and projected conference rooms forms the heart of the collaborative space.

Sustainable design goals shaped the building planning, form and enclosure. The north public side of the building, facing the greenway is a simple rectangular transparent glass volume, inviting views and daylight deep into the building. The south private workspace side of the building has a graceful faceted V-shape form embracing the landscape. A framework of louvers admits light and views and protects the window wall from heat gain. To maximize daylight for all workspaces, open work stations occupy the window wall, while private glass walled offices line the inner cores as well as the east and west façades. The east and west end walls, clad in pewter–colored metal panels, are more solid with smaller individual openings. Rigorous storm water management strategies create a landscape of paths, groves of trees, and retention ponds around the building. The project is tracking LEED Gold.

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Status: Unbuilt
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, US
Firm Role: Architect
Additional Credits: Ratio Architects