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A Newly Renovated Home in the William Johnston Building

Published October 4, 2011

Florida State University President Eric J. Barron rededicated the newly renovated William Johnston Building to the “20th century students who first brought these halls to life” and the “21st century students who will open its doors to the future” during a ceremony held on the evening on Sept. 20.

“Today’s William Johnston Building is a multitasking, carbon-neutral, student-focused learning and gathering place that joins rich, beautiful tradition to smart, contemporary pizazz,” Barron said.

The renovation marries a traditional collegiate Gothic exterior with an ultramodern interior, which includes a dramatic five-story atrium. With 143,000 square feet, it houses portions of the Division of Undergraduate Studies and the colleges of Communication and Information; Human Sciences; and Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance.

The architects of Gould Evans Associates and a consultant from H2 Engineering designed the Johnston Building to conform to the standards of the Architecture 2030 Challenge, an initiative by the global architecture and building community to build “carbon neutral” buildings that strive to emit zero greenhouse gases in their operation.

What’s more, FSU is expecting the Johnston Building renovation to receive a LEED Gold rating (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) in the internationally recognized green-building certification system.

“In the 1930s, sustainability was about self-sufficiency,” said lead architect Beverly Frank of Gould Evans Associates. “The campus creamery and cannery were great examples of that. Today, a major goal of creating sustainable building environments has to do with energy efficiency and a ‘building science’ approach to design and construction. A great deal of the remodeling within the existing building involved elements that are not seen or immediately evident, such as insulating the entire building with closed-cell spray foam and installing energy-efficient windows and mechanical systems.”

As another example of an energy-saving measure, the building is outfitted with motion-sensitive lighting that activates at 50 percent of their potential brightness. With the touch of a switch, the lighting can be brought up to 100 percent, but in most cases the reduced lighting level is sufficient, according to Frank.

Parts of the first, second and third floors will house three of the four departments of the School of Art and Design: Art History, Art Education and Interior Design. (The Department of Art remains at the Fine Arts Building at the corner of Copeland and Call streets.)

“This remarkable new building will provide state-of-the-art facilities to these top-tier programs,” said Sally McRorie, dean of the College of Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance. “With shared spaces from a gallery and a resource library to labs and studios with specialized technology, this new home brings these three members of our School of Art and Design into closer collaboration on research and teaching. It’s an engaging environment that is as conducive to learning in the 21st century as it is beautiful.”