Classic Look of Metal: Copper

College reunions, for some alumni, are times to have fun, kick back and reminisce about the good old days on campus.

For the 30th reunion of the Dartmouth College class of ’78, raising a $40 million endowment was just one more item on its agenda.

Classic-Dartmouth1.jpgThe $40 million happens to be the price tag for naming a new campus building that will carry their legacy far into the future. The Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center is one of several facilities planned for construction on the Dartmouth campus during the next few years.

The 174,500 square-foot building will take its design cues from the “traditional” architecture of the campus. Identifying features include a brick exterior (with or without ivy), granite base and a handsome, pale-green copper roof to cap off the project, according to Steve Campbell, Dartmouth’s director of planning, design and construction.

Because it can take years for copper to achieve a green patina — a natural barrier that protects the metal and contributes to its legendary lifespan — the new building’s roof will be pre-patinated before installation, a process that accelerates the color change. This will allow the structure to more quickly blend into its surroundings.

Copper is visible on most of the roofs across the Dartmouth campus in Hanover, N.H. Originally, slate was predominantly used, but the university gradually transitioned to copper through building additions and renovations. “Copper just seems to fit well with our architecture,” says Jack Wilson, associate director of planning.

Wilson is responsible for selecting architectural materials for Dartmouth. While the college does not have specific architectural guidelines, he feels the campus buildings in general adhere to two existing, predominant styles: neo-classical and neo-Georgian. “You’ll find copper on all the pitched roofs on campus,” he says. “It really sets the tone.”

Within its exterior of copper and brick, the new life sciences building will house an array of laboratories and specialty classrooms that support Dartmouth’s commitment to biological research. Included in the structure are features such as a 200-seat auditorium, two-story atrium, 30 “wet” labs, six teaching labs, two 80-seat amphitheater classrooms and a 6,000 square-foot greenhouse.

Appropriate to its mission, the life sciences center will be environmentally friendly. The building is expected to consume only half of the energy typically required to operate similar laboratories currently in use in the United States. State-of-the-art energy management and storm-water management systems are key features included in the design.

The project is estimated to cost $93 million when it is completed. The class of ’78 is planning to tour their newly named building sometime around March 2010, the proposed opening date.

“The class of ’78 is not only extraordinary generous, but farsighted in enabling the work of students and faculty in critical fields” such as life sciences, says Dartmouth president James Wright. “I’m excited by the prospect of having a building that not only is on the (architectural) cutting-edge for the space it provides, but will also be a national model of sustainable design.

The Copper Development Association is the information, education, market and technical development arm of the copper, brass and bronze industries in the USA.

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