Excellence in Structural Engineering Award Goes to Institute of Environmental Sustainability

Structural Engineers Association of Illinois (SEAOI) gives out an award every year to a project it feels helps encourage engineering education and advances the art and science of structural engineering. Loyola’s recently constructed Institute of Environmental Sustainability (IES) won the “Best Project” award given out by SEAOI for the Excellence in Structural Engineering Awards Competition. The judge commented that “the winter garden is an elegant curved glass enclosure with a minimized amount of structure to allow unobstructed views. The environmentally responsible IEC integrates academic and residential components of university to create space for an exciting and delightful whole student experience”.

IES – Loyola University Chicago

The crown jewel of IES is the winter garden. The winter garden is a 3,100 square foot urban agricultural greenhouse. The structure is designed using nine elliptically curved trusses that are made out of 8” SCH 80 pipe connected to 5” SCH 40 pipe though a triangular cross section configuration of a double top chord and single bottom chord system. The design of the continuously curving trusses helps minimize the amount of structure needed to hold up the glass curtain wall skin. The top roof portion of the greenhouse incorporates pipes curved to a very large 250ft radius to help maximize sunlight in the winter garden’s growing area while at the same time try to produce minimal glare to surrounding buildings. Also there is a tight 12 ft radius 90 degree bend at one end that goes down into an S shaped curve. This curvature in the steel pipe trusses design helps with passive ventilation. When you walk into the building you will notice the temperature. You are in an unconditioned environment that is not heated or cooled. The winter garden is shaped to assist natural ventilation with open end windows at both ends of the trusses. This unique curved shape of the winter garden also facilitates rain water harvesting. Water falling on the curved roof easily flows into a 3,000 gallon cistern located on the first floor. The water is then reused in the greenhouse operations for irrigation, landscaping and for flushing the toilets located off the lounge.

Curved 8″ SCH 80 and 5″ SCH 40 Pipe

In the greenhouse there will be two aquaponic systems. There are also two vertical farming installations where food crops are grown for harvest on a wall mounted lattice structure. The ecological system will grow fish and produce for food. Students taking courses in related fields will work to identify what to grow in these systems and how to process them for market. Students maintaining these gardens will sell the produce at Loyola’s famers market and through the Engrained Café. The IES is an innovative and interactive learning environment that demonstrates how students can participate actively within, as well as help to create a living/learning green community.


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