Western Oregon University’s new live-learn residence hall Ackerman Hall, a building designed and constructed for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification, was named after an important figure in the university’s history, John Henry Ackerman. Ackerman was President of Oregon Normal School from 1911 to 1921.
Ackerman’s commitment to students was paramount to his mission both during his entire career and while he was president of Oregon Normal School. In 1911, Ackerman tackled the task of reopening the Oregon State Normal School in Monmouth, which had closed the previous year due to lack of state funding. Ackerman reopened the school and served as president of the newly renamed Oregon Normal School. As president, Ackerman oversaw the construction of many new buildings on campus, including the school’s first dormitory, later named Todd Hall, and the gymnasium, now known as Maple Hall. In 1920, Ackerman fought for the passage of a millage bill to establish adequate and stable funding for the ONS. He was also a supporter of tax measures designed to improve the conditions of rural schools which saw substantial improvement during his tenure.
Another highlight of Ackerman’s career was the effort he made to create a more diversified and strong faculty. It was the usual practice among normal schools and colleges, particularly in the pioneer west, to employ a substantial number of their own graduates as teachers. It is notable that Ackerman avoided this practice. Ackerman sought to recruit faculty from other parts of the country. Ackerman died of a sudden stroke in 1921 and he left behind a legacy of family, friends and students that greatly admired him and his work to improve educational standards and quality in Oregon.
Brothers Fred and Jim Carleton, toured the building toward the end of the construction process. Although neither were able to meet their great-grandfather, John Henry Ackerman as they were born after his death, they know that he would be proud to have his name on such an innovative building that reflects his own trendsetting ways.
Jim admires the quality of the building as well as the project's concept and adds that his family is honored by this recognition, especially his sister, Pat, and cousin, Jerry, who were unable to make this first inpection of the site. “We loved it! I’m really anxious to get my son down there to see it, he’s an architect. It’s a new concept in my way of thinking and it's really refreshing. I am really encouraged by what’s going on.”
Ackerman Hall has been constructed with numerous sustainable and green features for lighting, heating, air, water usage and more. Here's a closer look at some of those features.
Grove wood repurposed
A number of trees were removed from the more unusable third of the Grove due to the severe storm in 2008 and construction of Ackerman Hall. Those trees have been repurposed within the building in a number of ways, including stump tables and wall paneling in the lobby, transaction tables for the University Housing office, paneling in the main stairwell, and a butcher block in the kitchen on the fourth floor.
Resident room electric usage
Each student’s room has some features that help control electric usage. The main lights work on a system that turn off when there is no movement in the room for a period of time (e.g. sleeping or no one in the room). Also, there are “green plugs” that turn off when the main lights do. Students are encouraged to plug in items that aren’t always in use into these plugs. In the lobby of the building there will be an energy monitoring board showing the energy usage for each 33-person community. The hope is that displaying the usage will foster a competitive spirit to try for low energy usage.
Every wing of the building has a laptop bar with wired plugins (and the whole building has wireless access) that is made of recycled paper stone and steel (which is what construction manager, Brad Huggins has his hand on).
On the roof are solar ducts that help to heat the outside air and pump it into the building (reducing the energy costs for heating). There are also solar water ducts on the roof heating water, to reduce energy costs for heating water. Ackerman Hall is expected to have 50 percent less water usage and 45 percent less energy usage than similarly sized residence halls.
Rainwater harvesting tank
One of the major sustainable features of Ackerman Hall is rainwater harvesting. A 30,000 gallon tank collects rain water, which is then processed and used for toilet flushing in the building. Another art installation by Murch is a granite sculpture that spurts out droplets of water to show when the tank is processing water.
1% for art
The surface of the courtyard is made of Filter Pave (recycled glass) instead of concrete. Water filters through the material to the soil instead of relying on storm drains to carry the water to be chemically treated. This is only the second use of Filter Pave on the West Coast. The surface also features installed art by Anna Valentina Murch, who designed stainless steel pieces that look like raindrops when viewed from above.
Other green features
• The walls have three times the amount of insulation required by code to help reduce energy costs.
• There are also many large energy efficient windows that feed in daylight, reducing the need for electric light.
• A soy-based sealant was used throughout the construction.
• Signage throughout the building will explain the sustainable elements.
• Behavioral practices to residential living, such as recycling are encouraged. Receptacles have been placed in public areas to encourage participation.
• The elevators use vegetable oil instead of hydraulic oil to operate.