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Construction begins on law school campus

June 12, 2000

Lewis & Clark’s law school, recognized as best in the nation in environmental and natural resource law, put its environmental values to work as it began construction this summer of a $15-million project to expand and renovate Paul Boley Law Library.

“One of our design goals was to create a building that interacts with nature,” says Jon Wiener, principal architect on the new library from Soderstrom Architects. “The existing buildings have beautiful views of the woods beyond, but they are sealed off from it. The original architecture was based on an intellectual separation between man and nature rather than an expression of their interdependence. We thought this building was an opportunity to show how nature and the built environment are intertwined.

“We tried to create an architecture for the library that expresses the natural forces around it, to let the forces influence the form and visible ways in which the building operates,” he says. “The famous architect le Corbusier called his architecture ‘a machine for living.’ We wanted to create a machine that was shaped by nature. The way in which the wind blows, the angle of the sun and the slope of the hillside all affected our design.”

For example, in choosing where to build, Soderstrom looked for the place that would have the least environmental impact. Architects chose the old service area parking lot and designed a three-story building to keep the footprint as small as possible. They designed the form of the building in response to the natural topography, from the contours of the hillside on which the building sits, to the broad sweeping curve of Terwilliger Boulevard.

The design includes an “eco-roof,” to allow forest plants to grow on the building. It features operable windows throughout and an entirely natural ventilation system.

In addition, the architects brought in lots of natural light and special state-of-the-art glass to keep as much heat inside the building as possible during the winter, yet keep heat out during the summer. The design also calls for sensors that automatically roll down internal window shades and that turn down the lights when there is too much daylight.

A light “scoop” on top of the building will bring daylight into the central stair. And the architects designed the reading room ceiling to bounce natural light into the center of the building to reduce the dependence on artificial lighting.

Soderstrom has received numerous design awards for energy efficiency, including the 1997 American Institute of Architecture Energy Award and the Portland General Electric Earth Smart Program Gold Award for Energy Awareness.

For the law library project, Soderstrom and Hoffman Construction have adopted the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Standards published by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Established in 1997, LEED encourages the construction industry to recycle waste and to use recycled materials. Commercial building projects earn points in these categories: building materials, construction waste, management, energy, indoor air quality, landscaping, ozone depletion, recycling, transportation, water conservation, water quality and maintenance.

To promote environmental responsibility, for example, contractors are using wood from certified sustainable forests.

To improve forest habitat, crews will remove ivy and blackberries that choke a healthy forest and will replant the area with evergreen trees.

Contractors are using recycled steel and aluminum, gypsum (for ceilings) that contains old newsprint, carpets from mills with reclamation programs, and linoleum that contains linseed oil and wood flour.

Moreover, Hoffman Construction Co. is recycling all debris created in the construction project. Instead of hauling debris from the excavation site to landfills, contractors are taking it to recycling companies where it becomes back-fill material. After six weeks of work on the project, Hoffman had not made a single trip to the landfill.

“Subcontractors learn that recycling is less costly than dumping and is better for the environment,” says Jim Truax, Hoffman’s superintendent .

To view weekly updates of the library expansion project, visit

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