The Warren Woods Ecological Field Station for the University of Chicago is the first certified Passive House laboratory in North America.
In 2010, the University of Chicago acquired 42 acres of land adjacent to Warren Woods State Park in Berrien County Michigan for the development of a Passive House remote field station and laboratory by the Department of Ecology and Evolution. The intent of the field station is to provide a facility where small groups of students and researchers can grow, process and study the plants, maximizing the use of the test planting areas already on site. Several habitats are represented at the site, including climax beech-maple forest and remnant wet-prairie. Along with research being conducted in these habitats, botanical experiments will be performed in fenced plots. The cleared, northern end of the property and most of the woodland are undergoing restoration or will be used for agricultural fieldwork. In addition to a small yet fully equipped research laboratory where the plants can be processed and studied, the field station will also include a small seminar space where students can gather, as well bathrooms and a kitchenette to prepare meals.
GO Logic was commissioned in 2013 to design and construct the field station and cabins. In addition to the complex technical requirements of the laboratory, the University brought an interest in pursuing Passive House certification, made particularly challenging by the high levels of heat generated by the scientific research equipment. GO Logic proposed a layout to reduce overheating by locating the lab on the comparatively cooler, north face of the building, while leaving the remainder of the sloped roof structure open to provide tall ceilings in the seminar space and a sleeping loft above the lab tucked into the upper extent of the roof's pitch.
Distressed wood exterior siding is paired with refined, perforated steel sliding screen panels, used for solar shading and outdoor storage enclosure, to reflect the contrast of the building's high-tech function within a natural and very rustic landscape.
Construction is began in the fall of 2013, with a completion date of spring 2014. The field station is LEED and Passive House certified. The field station is the first Passive House certified laboratory in North America.