Everything about it embodies innovation and collaboration.
From its design, construction, location and purpose, the Marksbury Building is a reflection of the College of Engineering and the Center for Visualization & Virtual Environments’ focus on innovation and forward thinking.
The building was designed to provide a more collaborative environment by consolidating the resources of the Computer Science Department, the Center for Visualization & Virtual Environments and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.
“The Marksbury Building will provide the substantial benefit of having us all in the same block, and co-located with potential collaborators from ECE and the Vis Center,” said Computer Science Department Chair Ken Calvert. “Being in closer proximity should improve collegiality and synergy in our research efforts.”
According to Vis Center Director Brent Seales, having the opportunity to work with the architects from the outset of the project has allowed important technology and space requirements to be integrated into the building will allow the Vis Center to expand research opportunities for our faculty, staff and students.
“The new space has been carefully planned and built to provide our researchers with custom, high quality research space,” Seales said. “Moving onto campus and integrating our labs into this new space allows us to continue to pursue our goal of excellent multidisciplinary research. In the new building, we have space dedicated appropriately to servers, networking and fabrication – all of which are key parts of maintaining appropriate infrastructure to support our research.”
One of the most obvious features of the building is its openness. The large glass wall on the northwest side of the building and free flowing floor plan allows easy access to flexible, state-of-the-art workspaces with high ceilings to view undergraduate, graduate and faculty research as it is being conducted. And the 100-seat theatre’s glass wall provides the opportunity to literally project the results of that research in a compelling way.
“The building was designed from the beginning to ‘let its light shine’ and reflect, to the outside, the great research work going on inside,” said Calvert.
As the second phase of the university’s high-tech “Digital Village” concept, the building also reflects the University’s commitment to sustainability. It will be UK’s first to receive certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.
LEED is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
“The LEED certification is a natural fit for the Vis Center and the Digital Village,” said Seales. “Our research is focused on innovation, and the LEED certification is focused on innovation through design and engineering. It supports our core values of collaborative, practical and unified research.”
According to Calvert, one of the “coolest” features is the system for recycling heat from computers. “Normally, computer rooms have big air conditioners that get rid of the heat generated by big clusters of machines. In most buildings, this heat just goes to waste. In the winter, you might be using energy to cool down a few rooms in the building, while simultaneously using more energy to heat up the rest of the building. In the Marksbury Building, the systems are connected so that heat from the computers can be used to heat the rest of the building in the wintertime, thereby saving energy.”