Photo by Warren Jagger

Duke University, Environment Hall

Durham, NC




2014 Honor Award for Design Excellence, Boston Society of Architects
2014 Excellence in Construction Merit Award, Associated Builders and Contractors
Duke University, Environment Hall
Duke University, Environment Hall
Duke University, Environment Hall

Photo by Warren Jagger

Environment Hall serves as the new home of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and houses academic offices, teaching spaces, laboratories, and an eighty-seat lecture hall.  Designed to meet LEED Platinum standards, the 70,000 sq ft building utilizes many sustainable technologies, including photovoltaic rooftop panels and sunshades.  SGH was the structural engineer for the project.

Scope | Solutions

The project team selected a cast-in-place concrete structure for consistency with other buildings on campus.  As the structural engineer, SGH designed the following:

  • Five-story, cast-in-place concrete structure comprised of two-way flat slabs with drop panels and concrete shear walls
  • Cantilevered concrete stairs at east and west sides of building
  • A pedestrian walkway that connects Environment Hall to the Levine Science Research Center and comprises a cantilevered steel canopy with shallow structural members to maintain a thin profile
  • A steel pedestrian bridge that connects Environmental Hall to an adjacent parking area and consists of two 50 ft beam spans, which allow for open access for maintenance vehicles below the bridge and for the bridge foundations to be located between two existing buried structures
  • Steel-framed support structures for photovoltaic arrays
  • Steel sunshade support structures that consist of tension cables hung from Level 3 and are laterally braced to columns at Level 2, which allowed for small HSS sizes embedded within the sunshades
  • Thermal breaks to improve thermal performance within concrete that transitions from interior to exterior that helped support the project’s goal for LEED platinum certification

Project Contact(s)