Location Boca Raton, FL
Size 500,000 ft²
Completed 2011
Program 375 apt-style units with living area, kitchen, dining room, and bedrooms

Florida Atlantic University is on a winning streak. The college in Boca Raton already has nine LEED-certified buildings—including a dining and banquet hall in its College of Engineering building that earned LEED-CI Platinum certification—and a tenth is coming soon with the completion of the Innovation Village Apartments, a 500,000-square-foot apartment complex with 1,216 beds.

Phase I of Innovation Village Apartments, built on a 20-acre site on FAU’s 750-acre campus, consists of 375 apartment-style units in two residential buildings. All of the units have a living room, dining area, and kitchen and offer from one to four single-student bedrooms each. The project was designed to LEED Gold standards and uses local materials, daylighting, greywater irrigation, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and low VOC-paints, adhesives, and carpets. Preferred parking for fuel-efficient vehicles, access to public transportation, ample bicycle storage, and an active recycling program encourage students to understand the building’s emphasis on sustainability.

Perhaps the most notable element of the project was the tunnel-form system used for the buildings’ interior frame, which is covered in tilt wall panels. The challenge of the tunnel-form system, necessitated by the 18-month schedule, was that it required a column every 10 feet, preventing flexibility in unit configuration. The creative solution of PGAL, the project architect, included floor-to-ceiling glass that provided a dramatic infiltration of light into the living rooms.

Floor-to-ceiling windows aren’t limited to entryways, PGAL Architects used expansive windows in living spaces to let in natural light. Photos: Dana Hoff


Owner Florida Atlantic University
Developer Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions, Capstone Development Corporation
Architect PGAL
General Contractor Balfour Beatty Construction

PGAL, in partnership with Capstone and Balfour Beatty Construction, worked closely with team members to complete the project six weeks early and on budget for just more than $66 million. According to Azita Dashtaki Dotiwala, associate vice president of facilities at FAU, the on-time and on-budget completion was partly the result of PGAL’s commitment to understanding the university’s goals. “The team held design meetings to gain a better understanding of the specific features the user group desired in this facility, including a clear vision for the sustainable goals of the project,” she says. “It was from this process that the architect learned the importance that the university placed on green features.”

The impressive wrap-up also showcased the success of FAU’s unique approach to sustainability. According to Dotiwala, the university is unusual in that it involves the entire collegiate community in its sustainability efforts. “Our efforts aren’t isolated to the construction of LEED buildings or division of facilities,” she says. “We have a sustainability committee that includes faculty, staff, and students, all of whom contribute to the overall reduction in our environmental footprint. And, climate change and renewable-energy research is a major part of the university’s grant-funded awards. It’s only through a joint effort … that change [can] really occur.”

Phase I of Innovation Village Apartments is FAU’s first housing project in which green design and construction were part of the process, Dotiwala says. The same will be the case for a new 600-bed student housing project and parking garage, which are set to begin this year. Dotiwala says they will create a “sense of place” for FAU students by providing additional facilities to complement the university’s 30,000-seat football stadium, which opened in October 2011. That’s important, Dotiwala says, because on-campus housing plays a significant role in educating students about the impact their habits have on the environment.


Certification LEED Gold (expected)
Materials Local, low-VOC materials
Water Greywater irrigation and low-flow plumbing fixtures
Education Energy- and water-saving competitions

Students learn to reduce and recycle as a way of life, she says, and housing staff runs two major competitions throughout the year. One measures which residence hall reduces the most energy- and water-use for a designated month, and the other measures the amount of waste diverted from the landfill. “These practices carry out beyond the walls of the new housing residence and hopefully will impact decisions such as the type of car [students] purchase and whether they turn up the temperature of their room when they are leaving for class,” Dotiwala says. “If these students take these habits with them beyond their university years, we have contributed to educating future generations about how their actions impact our resources and how to change a culture of waste.”