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A Sense of Security:

First-of-its-kind education center trains first responders

Marcy Marro, Managing Editor, Posted 05/01/2012

COD HEC4Standing as a response to growing public concerns about national security and regional employment, the new 66,000-square-foot Homeland Security Education Center at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Ill., is the first facility of its kind in the Midwest. Designed by Legat Architects, Chicago, and Brubaker Design, Chicago, the facility prepares multi-jurisdictional emergency personnel to respond to international and domestic terrorist acts as well as man-made and natural disasters.

"The HEC stands as an epicenter for homeland security education," says Aleisha Jaeger, senior project manager at COD. "It elevates the skills of first responders, and offers our community a symbol of strength and dedication to regional and national safety."



Training Programs


The center houses the college's Criminal Justice and Fire Science/EMS programs, in addition to the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy and the COD police department. The facility's hub is a 5,400-square-foot first non-military 4-D Immersive Interior Training Lab, which functions as both a gathering area and a zone to simulate urban response force-on-force situations and firearms judgmental training.

"With its brick and stucco walls, canopies, and street lights, the Interior Training Lab feels like Main Street, but behind the 'storefronts' are classrooms and labs," says Jay Johnson, HEC project manager, Legat Architects.

Additionally, the HEC features forensics and cybercrimes labs, full-scale ambulatory training, a fully functional mock courtroom, smoke room with moveable walls for firefighter scenarios, and debriefing room with floor-to-ceiling viewing screens. The center also provides first responder training in the areas of terrorism methodology, forensics, cyberterrorism, urban response, National Incident Management Systems, emergency medical response and homeland security.

"This is as real as it gets," says Bill Lawler, director of the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy. "The HEC not only provides the highest level of hands-on training for the next generation of first responders, but our partnerships with local municipalities allow seasoned law enforcement and emergency personnel to build their skills."




A New Gateway

Located at the intersection of two busy roads, the HEC creates a new gateway on the west side of campus. The center is made up of two volumes: a rectangular glass and steel-gridded event space, and an auditorium whose metal-clad walls undulate.

A solution to the goal of designing a facility solid enough to support its primary function, yet unique enough to pique curiosity, came in the form of a predictable block accentuated by a series of unpredictable "episodes," including façade recesses and protrusions, height variations, and color and material differences. These differences create a dialogue of contrasts: private and transparent, level and angled, introverted and extroverted.

To push the HEC in a new direction, while still relating to the industrial quality of the other campus buildings, metal panels in three different colors were selected. The panels' random arrangement and blue-green colors merge technology and nature. Mitsubishi Plastics Composites America Inc., Chesapeake, Va., supplied 24,000 square feet of ALPOLIC aluminum composite wall panels coated in three custom blue-green metallic colors by Minneapolis-based Valspar. ACM fabricator, Metal Design Systems Inc., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, supplied its Series 30 concealed aluminum framing system with the ALPOLIC panels.

"We spent a lot of time tweaking the three custom panel colors," Johnson says. "On clear days, the center merges the sky's blue with the green of the landscape."

Additionally, Petersen Aluminum Corp., Elk Grove Village, Ill., supplied its PAC-750 soffit panel system in Zinc Metallic, and Santa Monica, Calif.-based Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope supplied its Vistawall curtainwall system with low-E glazing from Guardian Industries Corp., Auburn Hills, Mich.

The project also includes a THERMAX Wall System by Dow Building Solutions, Midland, Mich., which features 1 1/3-inch aluminum-faced polyisocyanurate attached to 16-gauge cold-formed steel studs with 2 1/2 inches of Dow Thermax spray foam insulation. The Dow Thermax wall systems provides simplified design, streamlined construction and optimized energy efficiency for a reduced carbon footprint.

Designers also wanted to give visitors a heightened sense of their surroundings and to engage the way people move around the space. Some of the accordion-like walls are meant to leave occupants wondering what's around the corner, while glass undulations enable occupants to walk in and out of nature. The undulations in the building's main corridor become display cases, while in the auditorium, they enhance acoustic performance.




Garnering Attention

The HEC has become a source of pride for first responders and residents alike. It offers both newer students and experienced professionals sophisticated, hands-on training, and is expected to fill 19,000 jobs over the next 10 years.

The COD has developed strong energy and environmental standards for all campus projects, and the HEC is no exception. The center is registered to achieve LEED-NC Silver certification, which was particularly important since it was designed to be a model facility that other institutions throughout the nation are likely to reference.

"The center has attracted a lot of attention, not only throughout the Midwest and the country, but internationally, and that's a good thing, because it allows us to give back to any community that's concerned about public safety," says COD President Dr. Robert Breuder.



Homeland Security Education Center, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, Ill.

Architect of record: Legat Architects Inc., Chicago
Design architect: Brubaker Architects, Chicago
Construction manager: Power Construction Co., Schaumburg, Ill.
Civil engineer: V3, Woodridge, Ill.
Structural engineer: Larson Engineering, Naperville, Ill.
Landscape architect: JJR LLC, now known as SmithGroupJJR, Chicago
MEP engineers: AMSCO Engineering Inc., Downers Grove, Ill.
Tactical design consultant: Tactical Design LLC, Arlington Heights, Ill.
Commissioning agent: SSRCx, Nashville, Tenn.
Geotechnical borings: TSC LLC, Carol Stream, Ill.
ACM fabricator: Metal Design Systems Inc., Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Aluminum composite material: Mitsubishi Plastics Composites America Inc., Chesapeake, Va.,
Coating: Valspar, Minneapolis,
Curtainwall: Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope, Santa Monica, Calif.,
Glazing: Guardian Industries Corp., Auburn Hills, Mich.,
Insulated wall system: Dow Building Solutions, Midland, Mich.,
Soffit panels: Petersen Aluminum Corp., Elk Grove Village, Ill.,


Sustainability Factors

High-performance features decrease the HEC's energy use by 23 percent over a standard code-compliant building of similar size. The project, which is registered to achieve LEED-NC Silver certification, features a variety of sustainable attributes, including:

  • Heat recovery energy wheels on all air supply units capture return air from heated spaces, mix it with fresh air and then return it to the spaces.
  • Heat exchanger captures heat produced by chiller to heat domestic water and heating piping system.
  • Occupancy sensors throughout the facility automatically control lighting, while preventing wasted energy in unoccupied spaces.
  • Low-flush urinals and dual-flush toilets reduce water use 32 percent.
  • Forest Stewardship Council certified bamboo used on all doors, event space flooring, corridor wall panels and laboratory casework.
  • Aluminum panels are made of recycled beer and soft drink cans that contain 20 percent recycled content and are recyclable.
  • Low-E glazing on the north façade creates a 100 percent daylit corridor, while a crenellated glass wall enables light-filled study nooks within the corridor.
  • Zero- and low-VOC materials, paints and sealants improve indoor air quality, and help prevent employee illness.
  • 50 percent of materials were locally extracted/manufactured.
  • 95 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills.
  • The site features bicycle storage and changing rooms.
  • With LEED site boundaries, open green space exceeds the building's footprint.
  • The building site is located on an existing parking lot, reducing the amount of asphalt.
  • Two bus stations are within a quarter mile of the facility, encouraging public transportation.
  • Cool roofs offer a Solar Reflectance Index (SRI) that exceeds 78, the LEED minimum.



Metal Wall Panels

Mitsubishi Plastics Composites America Inc., Chesapeake, Va., supplied 24,000 square feet of ALPOLIC aluminum composite panels coated in three custom blue-green metallic colors by Minneapolis-based Valspar. The panels' random arrangement and blue-green colors merge technology and nature.


A Vistawall curtainwall system from Santa Monica, Calif.-based Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope with low-E glazing from Guardian Industries Corp., Auburn Hills, Mich., creates a 100 percent daylit corridor.

Crenellated Glass Walls

Along the north corridor, the crenellated glass walls define student gathering zones and display a winding outdoor path. The glass undulations enable occupants to walk in and out of nature.

9/11 Memorial

A 1,000-pound I-beam from one of the fallen World Trade Center Towers, along with images and quotes related to the 9/11 tragedy, are in a lobby outside the auditorium, which doubles as a fully functional mock courtroom.


The THERMAX Wall System by Dow Building Solutions, Midland, Mich., provides simplified design, streamlined construction and optimized energy efficiency for a reduced carbon footprint.

Design Goal

The architects designed a facility solid enough to support its primary function, yet unique enough to pique curiosity. The building features a predictable block accentuated by a series of unpredictable "episodes," including façade recesses and protrusions, height variations, and color and material differences. These differences create a dialogue of contrasts: private and transparent, level and angled, introverted and extroverted.

"Although we explored other contemporary materials during design, we elected to use metal because it offers a superior level of color customization," says Legat Architects' Jay Johnson, project manager of the Homeland Security Education Center. "Additionally, the appearance of the metal changes depending on shading, sunlight and perspective. You can't get that with other products."

Project Timeline

April 7, 2010 Design completion

April 2010 Issue for bid

May 20, 2010 Bid date

May 2010 Construction start

Feb 2011 MEP equipment start-up

March 2011 Metal panel installation

July 2011 Construction complete

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