New life for a 1970’s Science “Workhorse”
The Gant Complex epitomizes the difficult decisions increasingly faced by universities as they determine how to invest finite capital resources on 1970s-era buildings.
The University of Connecticut describes Gant as a “workhorse” academic building; it houses much of UConn’s STEM teaching and research space. The purpose of this project is to define and, in three phases over five years, execute strategic investments to renew the building for its next fifty years of service.
Goody Clancy is leading an integrated design process that guides the University in making decisions about how and where to invest. The process includes defining the following core principles:
- Prioritize improving existing program: improving teaching spaces, visually connecting labs to create science “neighborhoods,” and adding appealing collaboration spaces are high priorities.
- Carefully analyze systems for replacement: using multi-disciplinary analysis by engineers, energy modelers, construction manager, and cost consultant, our rigorous life-cycle cost analysis has confirmed decisions that initially seemed counter-intuitive.
- Concentrate on the most impactful exterior changes: focusing on areas of the building that will most dramatically improve user experience—entries, the ground floor, plaza-level glazing, and gathering spaces—will provide good return on investment.
This process defined the strategic interventions that had the greatest impact on teaching, energy use, and transformation of the image of the project.
Our team analyzed a range of alternatives for exterior restoration—from “over-cladding” the exterior to more limited repairs of windows and exposed structural elements—based on first cost, operating cost, and impact on phasing. We concluded that the optimal scope for the exterior included new windows and curtain wall, added interior insulation, and strategies to reduce air infiltration. These upgrades will help bring Gant into compliance with Connecticut’s High-Performance Building Standards and achieve LEED Gold.