FSU's Historic William Johnston Building Earns LEED Gold Certification

Words: Bronzella Cleveland
William Johnston Building

Following an historic renovation and an expansive new addition, the William Johnston Building at Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee, Fla., has earned LEED® Gold certification. The project team included Peter R. Brown Construction (PRBC), an Atkins company; and architect Gould Evans Associates. The 143,000-square-foot, $35.5-million project involved renovating the existing four-story historic building and adding a new five-story expansion structure.

The project was recently awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council and was verified by the Green Building Certification Institute. The east-facing section of the building originally opened in 1913, and the west-facing section was added in 1939. In the 1980s, the facility was named after FSU benefactor William H. Johnston, a hotelier from Jacksonville, Fla.

Renovations to the original structure included transforming the original dining hall into a lecture hall, complete with 21st-century technology. Emphasis was placed on maintaining the building's ornamental and historic features, including salt-glazed tile wainscoting, wood ceiling beams, hand-painted cork ceiling tiles decorated with nature scenes, and a cast-stone sculpture of Demeter, the Greek goddess of plenty. The project earned LEED certification for its use of a sustainable site, its water and energy efficiency, and its indoor environmental quality. The renovation included installing new closed-cell spray-foam insulation, motion-sensitive lighting fixtures, and energy-efficient windows and mechanical systems.

The interior of the five-story building expansion structure is highly contemporary in style and features a dramatic, five-story atrium; a dining hall; tutoring and study rooms; and numerous classrooms and offices. In contrast to the modern interior, the exterior façade of the expansion structure features color-matched masonry work and architectural cast-stone accents that closely match the existing façade of the original building.

"Today's William Johnston Building is a multitasking [and] student-focused learning and gathering place that joins rich, beautiful tradition to smart, contemporary pizzazz," stated FSU President Eric J. Barron during the rededication ceremony that was held to celebrate the project's completion in late 2011. The newly remodeled building is now home to portions of the Division of Undergraduate Studies; the College of Communication and Information; the College of Visual Arts, Theatre, and Dance; and the College of Human Sciences.

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