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William McDonough + Partners is announcing its latest project on September 6, and I wanted to share the news with you before the release goes out. The new 20,000 sq. meter building for Universidad EAN in Bogota, Colombia will be McDonough’s first signature building in Latin America based on Cradle on Cradle design thinking.

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Universidad EAN in Bogota, Colombia, to Build New Academic Building based on Cradle to Cradle Design Thinking

William McDonough + Partners is announcing its latest project on September 6, and I wanted to share the news with you before the release goes out. The new 20,000 sq. meter building for Universidad EAN in Bogota, Colombia will be McDonough’s first signature building in Latin America based on Cradle on Cradle design thinking.

As institutions face a new climate change reality, one university is stepping up to the task by educating its business and engineering students to envisage an optimistic new world of opportunity, brought about through a Cradle to Cradle® focused curricula and taught in a new academic building created using the same principles. Aptly referred to as “Project Legacy,” the new 20,000 square meter building designed by William McDonough + Partners for Universidad EAN (UEAN) will illustrate the possibilities of design for the circular economy, with a focus on the Latin American construction sector, and starting with Colombia.

Project Legacy will embody the university’s dedication to environmental awareness at its home in the El Nogal district within the urban core of Bogotá. By bringing Cradle to Cradle to the forefront for the city’s next generation of engineers and entrepreneurs, the university’s pedagogy will be rendered visible in the very materialization of the building.

As conveyed by world class architect William McDonough, the strong influence of nature will “provide an opportunity for contrasting the ephemeral, with the enduring qualities of the eternal”. Planning for te new building takes advantage of views of the nearby mountain range; and in a Cradle to Cradle world, building materials will be repurposed, recycled, or re-used in perpetual cycles, fulfilling a cycle of temporal regeneration. The juxtaposition of the natural and man-made reminds us of our debt to nature and the need for stewardship.

Importantly for the region, the building celebrates the qualities of color, light, and shadow that are unique to Colombian culture. Says McDonough: “It’s not a building that could be in any city. It doesn’t look like a building you’ve seen before, because it’s a celebration of the colorful expression of the students and faculty of a place that will experiment constantly with surprise and delight.”

The most prominent feature of the design is embodied in the structure’s WonderFrame™ shade structure, a perpetually reusable/recyclable space-frame-like installation originally devised by McDonough for a temporary structure built for the 2016 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Referred to as the ICEhouse™ (ICE = Innovation for the Circular Economy), the structure was rebuilt as an official meeting space in Davos in 2017, and will return in this capacity again in 2018.

The UEAN WonderFrame is a modular, multi-functional building system designed for quick assembly and constructed of commonly available materials. The metal frame is clad with multi-colored perforated panels, metaphorically invoking tree leaves. These triangular panels provide shade while simultaneously admitting daylight, demonstrating both material and energy efficiency. Covering roughly 85% of the façade, the WonderFrame will stand as the largest installation of this modular building system to date. Window glazing was chosen for energy effectiveness as well as high acoustic control.

“Colombia has a rich, diverse culture so for Universidad EAN, the goal of our design has been to not only inspire those coming through the school, but to also inspire the district and all of Bogotá,” said William McDonough. “It is a milestone for a university to adopt Cradle to Cradle in its curriculum, and I am excited to see EAN stimulate the next generation of entrepreneurs with this kind of circular economy thinking.

Cradle to Cradle is a design concept and optimization process that assesses products and whole systems at every scale. It starts by optimizing for human and ecological health, differentiating between biological and technical cycles. Biological nutrients are safe to return to soil where they rebuild soil health and store carbon. Technical nutrients are returned to industry for transformation into new products. Durable goods are seen as multi-generational materials that can be used repeatedly without the loss of value. Cradle to Cradle also values intelligent carbon management and energy use, water as a precious resource, and social fairness.

Natural ventilation for the new building will be aided through solar chimneys, which draw air through the building and exhaust it at the roof. Operable windows will be featured on all facades. Zones along the main street will provide mechanically ventilated and filtered air when outdoor air quality and ambient noise levels require it. The building will be one of the first to implement a new Verification Protocol for Engineered Natural Ventilation Systems in Equatorial Climate,developed by Bogotá-based environmental engineering consultants (and design team members) for the Colombia Green Building Council to standardize the use of natural ventilation as a LEED energy effectiveness strategy. This new protocol has been accepted by the U.S. Green Building Council as an Alternative Compliance Path toward the achievement of energy credits within the LEED rating system.

William McDonough + Partners is focusing on high-profile products to include in the building, like Cradle to Cradle Certified™ auditorium seating using FSC-certified wood and Cradle to Cradle Certified fabric. Partnerships with Colombian manufacturers are underway to bring such newly-designed products to market.

A goal of Project Legacy is to spread awareness and adoption of the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program in the local construction community. Given the central role Cradle to Cradle Certified products play in the LEED v4 Materials and Resources credits, which became the new standard November 1, 2016, the use of certified products will greatly facilitate the attainment of these credits in pursuit of LEED.

“At Universidad EAN, we are embracing the Cradle to Cradle approach of quality material health, efficient energy use, clean water, social benefit, and most notably for our business school, circular economy asset management,” said Herbert Perico Crissien, President of the Board, Universidad EAN. “The design for Project Legacy aims to stimulate creative thinking and encourage further innovation, whether through developing new products in the engineering curriculum or creating new companies in the business and finance curricula.”

The new building will provide physical and biological sciences laboratories, classrooms, administration offices, seminar rooms and special function rooms, including a cafeteria, indoor basketball court, exercise gymnasium, and an auditorium seating 500 people. A large ground level plaza and exterior terrace at the sixth floor provide ample opportunity for outdoor use in Bogotá’s mild climate.

Groundbreaking is anticipated in the third quarter of 2017. The design team includes PAYC as construction manager and AIA as the executive architect. Additional collaborators include Eco Intelligent Growth (EIG), Acustec, ADRAR, AGR, Aqualab, Gaia, GBCG, MTS, PAYC, PyP Proyectos, SETRI, and SES. The building is targeted to achieve a LEED® Gold rating.

William McDonough + Partners is excited to see this project coming to fruition, and is looking forward to new opportunities elsewhere in Colombia and Latin America. For more information on William McDonough + Partners and the UEAN project, please visit

About William McDonough + Partners

William McDonough + Partners is an architecture and urban design firm with offices in Charlottesville, Virginia and San Francisco. The firm applies a positive, principled design philosophy inspired by Cradle to Cradle—an approach that takes its cues from living systems and processes and seeks to expand on enduring standards of design quality. William McDonough’s interests and influence range widely, and he works at scales from the global to the molecular. He is recognized globally as a leader in sustainable development and was the Inaugural Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Meta-Council on the Circular Economy (2014-2016). He currently serves on the Forum’s Global Future Council on the Future of Environment and Natural Resource Security. In 2017, he received the Fortune Award for Circular Economy Leadership at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, where he was introduced as “the father of the circular economy.”

Recent and current projects include: NASA’s Sustainability Base office building at Moffett Field, California, viewed by NASA as a “prototype of a 21st-century building”; the Park 20|20 Master Plan near Amsterdam, and the architectural design of several corporate offices at Park 20|20; and Hero MotoCorp’s new “Garden Factory” in Neemrana, India, as well as their new Research & Development Center in Jaipur, India. The firm is also master architect for The Valley at Schiphol Trade Park, The Netherlands’ new National Hub for the Circular Economy.

Cradle to Cradle is a registered trademark of MBDC, LLC.

Cradle to Cradle Certified™ is a certification mark licensed by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.

LEED® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Green Building Council®.

WonderFrame™ is a trademark of McDonough Innovation, LLC.

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