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Touring the new Cuneo Hall

Damen Hall is demolished, and this fall Loyola welcomes the replacement: Cuneo Hall. A four-story academic building with an application submitted for LEED Gold certification, Cuneo looks like Cudahy and Dumbach, but packs an energy-efficient punch. Inside Loyola writer Karis Hustad recently took a tour of the building with Loyola’s project manager, Wayne Sliwa, who gave her the back story on Cuneo and a tour of its amenities. Here is her recap of the best new features:

Carved crests: When I walked into the southeast corner of Cuneo, the first thing that struck me were the two huge wooden ornately decorated crests on each wall.  At the request of Father Garanzini, the crests of Loyola and Cuneo were carved by a vendor in Texas to pay homage to the donor and school. They will be lit up by overhead lights, so students and faculty can appreciate the Harry Potter-esque crests regardless of outside light.

Four-story atrium: The “wow” factor of Cuneo is definitely the huge, four-story atrium, flooded with light from the skylight above. This atrium offers a spacious walkway, natural light, and a view of all four levels of the building. The inconspicuous vents on the floor offer the first view of the technical aspects of the building: in the case of a fire, vents will open to outside air and exhaust fans at the top of the atrium will engage to draw smoke up and out of the building.

Classrooms: Cuneo has 18 classrooms: two in the basement, seven on the first floor, five on the second floor, and four on the third floor. At the beginning of the tour, we walked  into a classroom on the first floor that seats more than 100 students, comfortably, with outlets on each table and wireless capability. This is one of the two biggest classrooms in the building. This one, however, has video conferencing capabilities. This requirement was added due to certain classes being offered on two campuses. For certain classroom opportunities, such as guest speakers, events can be streamed and shown to both classes. The classrooms also feature a double-door entrance, one in the front and one in the back, so that tardy students don’t have to come in the front of the class, disrupt instruction, and likely bring attention to themselves.

Each classroom has a small display at the front of the classroom with a green light and a red light that tells the instructor when the building is in a natural ventilation mode and to open and close the windows based on the temperature outside. It will be up to the instructor to note when the light is green, indicating that there is no mechanical cooling or heating in the room because of optimal temperatures outside, and they should go ahead and open the windows.

Offices: The fourth floor plays host to the four centers in the building: Women’s Studies and Gender Studies (WSGS), Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL), Center for Urban Environmental Research and Policy (CUERP), and the Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage. Graduate assistant cubicles line the east side of the building while offices face beautiful views of the lake and west side of campus. On the east side of the atrium on the fourth floor, light streams into a multipurpose conference room from the skylight above. As we walk around the fourth floor, we pass two staff members and I mention that I’m being given a tour of the building, both smile, and one says, “The space works really well, we really like it here.”

Roof: Building code quiz time: what does every new building built in Chicago have to have? It is a requirement of the city of Chicago code that new buildings of a particular size have to have a white roof to reflect heat, as well as a percentage of the roof has to be a green roof vegetation, which does two things: first, it insulates the roof to keep the building a little cooler, and it also absorbs and cleans some of the rain water that would instead go to sewers in the city. The green roof is covered in a variety of ground plants, including Sedum, which sustains its own water and it requires minimum attention once it becomes established. Several buildings on campus, including Mundelein, Quinlan, and Norville, have this green roof vegetation.

Display screen: On the wall at the tower entrance to the building, will be a digital screen that shows the energy usage by heating, cooling, and electricity. The intent is to impact the average student entering the building as to how energy efficient the building is. The display will also contain information for the non-technical person who says, “Okay what do you mean by a kilowatt hour?”

Aesthetics: Through the arched windows of the fourth floor, the architecture of Cuneo reflects Dumbach Hall. There was a plan put together in the 20’s that actually showed a building in this location and so this building’s architecture from the exterior was to emulate the design of the other two buildings, Dumbach Hall and Cudahy Science, – except that Cuneo is built with technology from the 21st century and is significantly more energy efficient than other ones.

Find out more about Cuneo from this previous Inside Loyola post.

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