College of The Albemarle is one of about a dozen state colleges tasked with coming up with an eco-friendly design for a new transportation hub in Charlotte, N.C., by the end of April.
Since January, five students in the school’s Design Project and Design Presentation classes have spent the semester researching green buildings in an effort to find design elements to include in their entry for the Natural Talent Design Competition. During their months-long research, the students have learned about things like a skyscraper in Dubai that rotates on its axis and an environmentally- friendly bus in China that can straddle and drive over cars sitting in traffic. While these ideas piqued their curiosity, these concepts didn’t make it into the students’ design plans.
But there are some innovative green building ideas the students discovered during their research, which they do plan on incorporating in their entry. Charles Purser, COA’s chair of the Design, Manufacturing and Industrial Technology program, said the students are currently creating the basic layouts for the new Charlotte Gateway Station Multi-Modal Transportation Center. One earth-friendly idea the students are including is electrically controlled windows on the building, that will open and close based on the outside temperatures.
“It all has to be green-minded, sustainable,” said Purser, referring to the contest’s design requirements. “The City of Charlotte was looking for some design ideas on a transportation center. Think of a train station and a bus station together.”
The students on COA’s design team are part of COA’s Sustainability Technologies curriculum which prepares students for careers in environmental construction, renewable energy and other related fields.
In addition to the temperature-sensitive windows, the COA team has also decided their building will include a living roof.
“Think of 12 inches of soil on the roof,” Purser said. “It keeps the roof cool and it will collect the rainwater and use it for toilet flushing in the building.”
The outdoor garden space on the roof will also serve as a place to improve the air quality in the building, Purser said, and will be a place where bus and train passengers can relax while waiting at the new Gateway Station.
Carl Raisor, a student on the COA team, is drawing the main building using a design software program.
“Our design isn’t quite finished,” Raisor said, “but it will be a three-story structure. The second-story will be protruding out over the bus hub and the third-story will be protruding over the trains.”
“Everybody has a part, it’s all essential,” added Raisor, who graduates this spring with his Associate’s Degree in Architectural Technology. “But we all kind of came together on the design.”
Raisor is completing the basic outline of the building with the software, but the students are still researching what details will be included in the 100,000-square-feet of the interior design. He said the team expects to use lots of metal and glass in its modern design – the new Gateway Station sits in uptown Charlotte – so the design has to reflect the modern architecture that surrounds the spot.
In addition to lots of glass windows, which will capitalize on environmentally-friendly natural light, Raisor said the team will also use tube lighting to help illuminate the second and third floors.
“Tube lighting is basically just a sealed hold from the roof that lets natural light through to wherever you like it,” Raisor said.
According to the competition criteria, the new station must also be no bigger than 100,000-square-feet and in addition to including an outdoor plaza area, the design must also include a below-grade pedestrian concourse between the station building and passenger platform, as well as a structured parking lot with approximately 250 parking spaces initially, but that can expand to 500.
To meet the parking criteria, the COA team has settled on a design that includes an automatic parking deck, a circular structure where people drive their cars in onto a platform that lifts the car up to a space on the upper level and then retrieves the car later, when the driver returns.
“The parking garage will electronically park the car for you,” Purser said, adding that the automatic garage will be solar-powered.
The state design contest is aimed at empowering students to become future leaders in the green building movement and encourages a reduction of dependence on fossil fuels within the building industry.
Kim Hairsine, another student on the COA design team, said the competition has helped opened her eyes to the importance of green building and she has learned a lot as she has helped the team research its design.
“I didn’t realize how many places are already implementing green designs,” said Hairsine, who is working on her Associate’s Degree in Applied Sciences. “I didn’t realize how much green building affects us in our daily lives and our future.”
Photo: A COA Design Project student works on plans for the Design Project and Presentation. Chair of the Design, Manufacturing and Industrial Technology program, Charles Purser, reviews plans from his work station.