San Jacinto College Mass Timber Instructional Building
The US’s largest educational building constructed from mass timber combines sustainability with high-tech instructional equipment.
Designed by Kirksey Architecture and brought to life by Tellepsen, the United States’ largest mass timber building on a college campus stands ready for new students arriving for another year of education at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas. This record-breaking building grows from an older structure that once stood on the spot. Its unique natural and sustainable construction balances the impressive technology found within its walls.
The overall project began in April 2021, and it took only 14 weeks to erect the 122,000 square-foot primary prefabricated mass timber structure. The black spruce lumber from Canada was transformed into ecologically sound construction beams, shipped to the location, and treated with the most precise structural integrity. Since San Jacinto College looks to guide students toward a brighter future, it makes sense that it chose such a forward-thinking technique for its revitalized classroom building.
The mass timbers that provide structural and architectural interest are specifically aligned structural support, and architectural interest aligns with today’s focus on renewable and sustainable resources. The beams provide natural temperature control and a much lower embodied carbon level than buildings constructed from concrete and steel. Furthermore, the overall cost of this project was kept to a minimum due to the reuse of the existing foundation, which was possible due in part to the fact that mass timber weighs a lot less than other building materials.
NCS was tasked with designing and integrating the structured cabling, surveillance, and audiovisual systems for all spaces within the building to ensure students have a technological advantage in learning. Fiber-optic cabling exists throughout the space and connects the structure with the rest of the campus. The scope of work includes over (800) Panduit Category 6 cables to workstations, wireless access points, IP speakers, and cameras. Multiple MaxCell three-cell fiber inner ducts were installed with (120+) Hilti fire-rated sleeves, (1,300+) Panduit fibers, and JAR Industries slim copper patch cords. Utilizing the existing campus’s DEMARC, NCS installed a General Cable 50 pair OSP Copper backbone cable to connect to the new building’s main distribution frame (MDF) with CIRCA building entrance protection and grounded to TMGB.
To ensure connectivity, NCS built out (1) MDF and (7) intermediate distribution frames (IDF) with Panduit 2 post racks, Panduit Patch runner cable management, a CPI 12′ single-tiered horizontal cable runway system and supporting hardware. Uninterrupted and continuous operation is critical in educational settings; The network and its high degree of security were carefully designed to deliver efficient speed, safety, and support all necessary hardware to expand into the future.
Working closely with the college to determine the needs of professors and students, the NCS audiovisual team determined the best locations, sizes, and setups for a wealth of digital technology options. The high-tech yet eco-minded mass timber structure contains (59) individual classrooms composed of presentation areas, training rooms, collaboration areas for group projects, conference rooms for large-scale gatherings, and more. The building features (62) NEC projectors, (128) Extron loudspeakers, (19) Samsung LED displays, (59) Inspiration Plus lecterns, (10) customized digital signage areas, and (9) Kramer wireless presentation devices and touch panels.
To better prepare themselves for any future situation, San Jacinto College tasked the NCS team with installing an integrated security surveillance system, and (11) indoor and (5) outdoor Hanwha cameras to mitigate campus crime and enhance visibility into day-to-day activities and operations. The integrated system enables school personnel and responders to monitor and better understand emergency situations as they arise.
Usability was not the only focus of the process. The goal to minimize utility use, carbon impact, and costs through efficient systems and intelligent construction design decisions lead to a comfortable, sustainable space. Solar panels provide natural energy to the building. Electrochromic glass in meeting halls and labs automatically tints based on exterior light and room occupancy. A gray water recovery system offers a greener option for managing the cooling tower basins on the college campus’s central electrical station.
As the doors of the largest mass timber educational building in the United States open again for students in 2022, it stands not only as a highly functional and attractive structure but also as a symbol of the new wave of more sustainable, smart construction across the country.