UAB’s newest learning facility is home to Honors College

Honors College students, faculty and staff are welcomed back with a new building along the Campus Green.
Written by: Joi Jackson
Media Contact: Yvonne Taunton

honorscollege 3Honors College students, faculty and staff are welcomed back with a new building along the Campus Green. Sustainability, education and community are key elements of the new University of Alabama at Birmingham Honors College building, Honors Hall, which opened in August 2020. The state-of-the-art facility is one of the latest buildings at UAB with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — or LEED — certification.

“I am thrilled and excited to showcase our new home for Honors collaboration and one-of-a-kind learning opportunities for students and faculty,” said Shannon L. Blanton, Ph.D., dean of the UAB Honors College. “Honors Hall has a wonderful open design that will provide a great setting for our many honors events and activities, and it offers a welcoming space conducive to the informal honors community that is such a big part of being a student in the UAB Honors College.” 

In June 2019, the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees approved the $3.55 million renovation of the former Snoozy’s Bookstore. The two-story, 11,000-square-foot structure is comprised of two Honors classrooms, two group study rooms, a quiet study space, a student lounge and additional seating throughout the building, along with staff and faculty offices. Honors Hall joins the Spencer Honors House in providing dedicated space for students in the Honors College. Featuring beautiful earth tones and an array of glass windows that provide natural sunlight, the interior is designed to facilitate multi-purpose use of the meeting rooms that will host honors classes, Honors faculty fellow events, activities and workshops by the Honors College Leadership Council, and honors student gatherings. Honors Hall also features a dedicated donor wall in appreciation of generous alumni and friends of the Honors College.

The exterior grounds feature a landscaped courtyard with outdoor seating. The glass panels on Honors Hall were donated by Ryan Metcalf of G&S, INC – Glass & Supply, INC. The building was constructed by Construction Services Group, LLC.

“I’m so delighted that the new Honors space is open, and I know that other students are as well,” said Mary Anne Powell, senior and president of the Honors College Leadership Council. “It will provide the necessary space to accommodate our growing student body for both classes and events. I also believe that having our own building — a ‘home’ if you will — will do a lot to bolster connection and community within the Honors College. There is so much more open study space, and the classrooms and common areas are equipped with useful tools and technologies that support our academic endeavors. It’s wonderful to have a space where we can safely congregate and feel in touch with other Honors students and our advisors even in the midst of the many changes COVID has caused.”

honorscollege 3Sustainability features

Honors Hall is LEED ID+C certified for Interior Design and Construction, which features indoor spaces that reduce stress on the environment by generating less waste and lowering the use of energy, water and other resources. This effort reduces the operational life cost of the building, thus promoting long term sustainability for efficient energy use in building operations.

The Honors College has made careful material selection a priority. LEED credit was awarded for prioritizing materials that have environmentally, economically and socially preferable life-cycle impacts. An example includes materials that have Health Product Declarations, declaring the presence or absence of known carcinogens in materials that allowed the design team to make informed choices during the construction process.

The adaptive reuse of the former Snoozy’s bookstore not only preserved a sense of place but reduced construction and demolition waste compared to a new building. The location choice conserves land, saves energy and resources and preserves the historical heritage of the building within the context of UAB’s campus.

Honors Hall has an energy-efficient roof, which reflects sunlight and discharges heat effectively. This aids in mitigating the urban heat island effect and helps keep the indoor spaces comfortable.

High-efficiency “flow” and “flush” fixtures within Honors Hall help reduce the supply of potable water needed to serve the needs of occupants. Potable water use is anticipated to be reduced by 35 percent below code-requirements.

Fixture layout and smart selection of lighting fixtures within Honors Hall are anticipated to reduce the lighting power density by more than 20 percent below Birmingham’s governing energy code allowances.