North Park University, Johnson Center

Chicago, IL

Students in the atrium lobby at Johnson Center, North Park University, Chicago


GBA provided LEED fundamental and enhanced commissioning services for a 101,000-square-foot, three-story academic facility housing all science classrooms as well as student engagement activities offices (residence life/housing, career development, student success, international office, university ministries). LEED Gold certification was achieved.


Building Design + Construction Magazine, Building Team Award (Gold Award), 2015


The $41 million Nancy and G. Timothy Johnson Center for Science and Community Life offers 10 smart classrooms and 30 smart labs, with lecture-capture capabilities, distance learning, and advanced collaborative technologies. Sustainable design choices include high-efficiency lighting and HVAC, a green roof and native plantings, light pollution reduction, use of local/regional/recycled materials, and other features.

GBA commissioned the building’s mechanical systems (HVAC, controls, energy recovery, monitoring); electrical systems (indoor lighting and controls, photovoltaics); and plumbing systems (domestic hot water heaters). Design-phase, bidding-phase, construction-phase, and post-occupancy services were provided.

Benefits of the commissioning process included:

  • Identification of difficult-to-maintain fan coil units during design reviews and BIM coordination. GBA helped the construction team coordinate appropriate accessibility throughout construction.
  • Revised sequence of operation of a high-plume lab exhaust fan. GBA worked with the design team to improve stability and performance while achieving the design intent.
  • An air-cooled chiller could not achieve the design chilled water flow turn down. The chilled water bypass valve was too small to handle the extra flow required and had to be upsized. GBA assisted the design and construction teams in making the necessary changes.
  • The commissioning engineers worked with the controls contractor to tune operation to avoid excessive noise.
  • GBA attended the start-up of lab gas and domestic water booster pump equipment to ensure that BAS alarm monitoring points were correctly landed and tested.

Photos courtesy North Park University

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