Decision to Recycle or Repurpose Carlson Hall

By Whitney Ward for

Reviewing the Green Team survey, there were a number of comments regarding the demolition of Carlson Hall. Although it would have been nice to renovate Carlson Hall and incorporate into a new building design (or leave as a stand alone facility), the state of the Carlson Hall’s structural, mechanical and electrical systems essentially precluded this from occurring. Carlson Hall, originally built as a dormitory, was constructed with un-reinforced concrete, which was not seismically safe. To make the building structurally safe would have required a substantial capital investment. Additionally, even if the seismic upgrade were completed, the low floor-to-floor height does not provide for the necessary space to install proper electrical and mechanical systems. The result is that, though technically possible to overcome the system shortcomings, to reuse this building would have required a massive investment for small, substandard and minimally functional spaces.

80.2% of the materials from Carlson Hall were recycled. The percentage of recycled materials would have been even higher, but the building’s brick was deteriorating and much of it disintegrated while sorting.

Whitney, an associate principal at VCBO Architecture, is an advocate for sustainable design and provides expertise in the design and documentation process for sustainable buildings. She has extensive experience in programming, facility planning, and community master planning. Whitney embraces a holistic design approach that ensures that functionality, flexibility, and durability are at the forefront of the projects that she works on.