Sustainable design defines UT Arlington’s College Park Center

UT Arlington’s College Park Center is more than an entertainment venue. It’s an example of what can happen when design intersects with a commitment to sustainability and innovation.

The $78 million special events center was designed by HKS Inc. to meet U.S. Green Building Council guidelines for LEED Gold certification and incorporates recycled construction materials and many energy-saving features.

What sets the building apart from an increasingly-crowded field of LEED-standard projects is the way the events center invites the natural environment in to what might have been a traditional, inward-facing venue, said David Skaggs, vice president of HKS Inc. Sports & Entertainment and senior architect for the project.

“This project was an opportunity to show what could be accomplished when the desire for a unique, first-class fan experience and sustainable design strategies are combined,” Skaggs said.

The building makes maximum use of natural lighting in its sweeping, grand entrance atrium, throughout its concourses and in one, full-size practice court.

Perhaps most notable is the building’s interaction with The Green at College Park, the new, 2.6-acre park on the south side of College Park Center. Southern concourses open toward The Green, providing programmable space for events that might spill outside as weather permits.

The City of Arlington and the North Central Texas Council of Governments collaborated with UT Arlington to develop the $2.8 million park, which was designed by Arlington-based Schrickel, Rollins and Associates.

Storm water from the events center and other paved areas surrounding the park is directed toward The Green through various ecological retention features full of native wetland vegetation. Specialized soil, plants and design concepts in the park will allow for a more than 25-percent decrease in the amount of storm water runoff that would have been expected from College Park Center.

In addition, more than a third of the storm water runoff from the 468-acre campus will travel through the Green at College Park site during major storm events.

Landscape architects say at least 80 percent of the suspended solids in the water will be filtered out before the remaining water flows toward Johnson Creek, a flood-prone tributary of the Trinity River.

The Green at College Park is one of 150 locations worldwide to serve as a pilot project for the Sustainable Sites Initiative or SITES, a new rating system for green landscape, design, construction and maintenance. Last week, it became one of the first projects to be certified by SITES.

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