18 District Energy / Winter 2019 © 2019 International District Energy Association. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
The University of Kansas (KU) in Lawrence recently completed the largest development project it had undertaken in nearly a century. In the words of former Chancellor
Bernadette Gray-Little, the $350 million
project not only improved but “
transformed” the public research university,
encompassing essentially “a decade’s
worth of construction in about three
years.” Hundreds of thousands of square
feet of facilities in the campus’s 45-acre
Central District were built to create a
new hub of education and research.
This monumental undertaking encom-
passed six key components: the new Inte-
grated Science Building, a residence hall
and dining facility, apartment-style student
housing, a student union, a parking garage
and a new Central District Utility Plant
(CDUP) to support some of these and other
facilities. Operational since spring 2018,
the CDUP was added to complement an
existing steam system that still serves
most buildings on campus.
While KU obviously wanted to maximize efficiency and minimize costs and
environmental impacts of campus energy
with the design of its new plant, the university decided to take the project farther
and combine the CDUP with the university’s main purpose – educating students.
It built a 45-seat classroom on the plant’s
mezzanine level, with windows overlooking the plant floor as well as into
the mezzanine mechanical space. In use
since fall 2018, the classroom puts science on display, making possible a level
of teaching and research opportunities
that didn’t previously exist.
THE CDUP CLASSROOM
While plans for the new utility plant
were driven by the university’s infrastructure needs, the idea to include a
classroom came out of design meetings
Courtesy University of Kansas. Photo Michael Robinson Photography.
of the development team in early 2016.
In addition to KU project staff and the
School of Engineering, this team consisted of Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real
Estate, developer; Clark/McCownGordon,
construction; Perkins+Will, architects;
Momenta, architects; Affiliated Engineers
Inc., mechanical, electrical and plumbing
engineers; and Professional Engineering
Consultants, civil engineers.
The CDUP is located on a large, open
plaza a block from a recently expanded
complex belonging to the School of Engineering. The school had embraced the
classroom idea as it would provide both
it and the university as a whole with a
unique teaching setting. Students in
mechanical, architectural, civil and chemical engineering, as well as students from
chemistry and physics, now benefit from
a life-sized view from the classroom of
physical and chemical principles being
applied to solve real-world problems. The
The University of Kansas’ new Central District Utility Plant.
Science on display at the University
A classroom in KU’s central plant offers new student learning opportunities.
Robynn Andracsek, PE, Associate Environmental Engineer;
and Phillip Ellsworth, PE, LEED AP, University Engineer, University of Kansas