Skip to main content Skip to main content

Portland State University, Fariborz Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Sciences: Sustainability in New Campus Construction

John Thompson, Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership
Robert D. Dryden, Portland State University

Portland State University's new engineering facility is a key element in the University's goal to increase its emphasis on engineering, science, and technology. Over the next five years, PSU seeks to double the number of engineering graduates, from 250 per year to 500. The new 130,000 square foot, $33 million facility will provide state of the art research and teaching facilities for Civil and Mechanical Engineering Departments and Systems Engineering Programs. The building houses 47 labs, a 120 seat lecture auditorium, student services, and offices on the five above-grade stories. Three below-grade stories contain a 364 space parking garage and additional offices. In addition to providing the school with a home on campus that it has never had, the building will also create a regional center to house the growing number of collaborative programs with Oregon Health & Science University, the Oregon Graduate Institute of Technology, and other institutions. The project also involves the renovation of 125,000 square feet in an adjacent property into labs and classroom space; this phase was completed in 2001.

Portland State University was interested in pursuing sustainability in new campus construction. Thus, for the new Engineering and Computer Science building, ZGF began the design process with an EcoCharrette to set environmental performance goals, and to find opportunities for optimizing the design. The building is LEED™ registered with a goal to attain Silver certification. The building has benefited greatly from participation in Better Bricks advisor program and through extensive daylighting analysis at the Portland Lighting Lab.

Labs21 Connection:

As part of a targeted LEED™ Silver certification, the building is designed to distribute abundant natural light, primarily through the glass entry lobby which spans the entire northwest corner. Glass-festooned stairwells on the south and north sides add to the daylighting, as will light shelves on the west side.

Another innovative sustainable feature is the geothermal heating and cooling system, which utilizes water deep underground that is thus not subject to temperature fluctuations. In the summer, the water will cool air that is circulated through the building. In the winter, that same water will be warmer than surface-level air, and thus can heat the air when needed.

In order to facilitate this underground heat-exchange system, however, the building team drilled 750 feet underground&mdash—the equivalent of 60 stories. This approach is rare in high-density urban areas because of extensive utilities and building support systems located on the perimeter of the new building, which made locating the exact well positions a challenge.

In combination with the heat-exchange system, the glass entry lobby and stairwells will be naturally ventilated using a series of mechanical louvers and fans (which double as mandated fire-protection technology) to open windows. In addition, the structure incorporates and uses recycled and local materials wherever possible.


John H. Thompson, AIA, has more than 20 years of experience in architecture, planning, and urban design. As a ZGF Design Principal, he has lead large teams on many of the firm's most technically complex projects. His background includes a diverse mix of research and laboratory buildings, offices, and educational facilities. Prior to joining Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership in 1985, John spent five years working in the design studios of Skidmore Owings and Merrill.

Robert D. Dryden, University Professor and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, joined the Portland State University (PSU) faculty as Dean of Engineering and Applied Science in 1995. In February 1997, he was also appointed interim Vice Chancellor of the Oregon Center for Advanced Technology Education (OCATE), and the Joint Graduate Schools of Engineering (OJGSE). In addition, his duties involve service as the Oregon State System of Higher Education's (OSSHE) liaison with the Capital Center in the Portland Metropolitan Area. In 1997, he was appointed Vice Chancellor of the Oregon College of Engineering and Computer Science of the Oregon University System and also remained Dean of Engineering and Applied Science at PSU. He received his BS (1967) and his MS (1968) in Industrial Engineering and Management from Oklahoma State University. His Ph.D. was received from Texas Tech University in 1973. Dr. Dryden has experience both in industry and in academia. After working for Conoco Pipe Line Company, he joined the faculty at the University of Texas at Arlington (1968), and also served as associate director of the Construction Research Center. In 1977, he assumed the chairmanship of the Industrial Engineering Department at Wichita State University where he also directed the Rehabilitation Engineering Center. In 1979, he accepted the position as Department Head of the Industrial Engineering and Operations Research Department at Virginia Tech where he remained until joining PSU. He is a professional engineer and has consulted and conducted research in the areas of construction productivity, safety, human factors engineering, rehabilitation engineering, and economic evaluation.


Back to the Agenda

EPA Home | OARM Home | DOE Home | FEMP Home

This page is no longer updated.
EPA gave I2SL permission to house this page as a historic record of the Labs21 Annual Conference.