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Columbia Theological Seminary will dedicate the Vernon S. Broyles Jr. Leadership Center on March 7


                                                                                                 photo by Stanley Leary 

With its distinctive glass and steel tower, the new Vernon S. Broyles Jr. Leadership Center at Columbia Theological Seminary serves as a welcoming portal to a global community of learning and Christian leadership formation. On Wednesday, March 7, at 10:00 a.m., the seminary will dedicate the center and honor the memory of Dr. Broyles. A longtime friend of the seminary, he was pastor for many years at North Avenue Presbyterian Church, in Atlanta, where he was also a prominent civic leader and advocate for social justice. A reception and tours of the center follow the service.

Construction of the Broyles Leadership Center was made possible through the generous gifts of donors. The 30,000-square-foot facility incorporates the 80-year-old Simons-Law building, formerly a student residence hall, which has been recycled and renovated for small classroom space, faculty offices, study areas, the seminary bookstore, and an education technology center.

New construction includes two classroom wings. One contains three 75-seat classrooms which have a mix of fixed and flexible seating and are equipped with the latest education technology. The second wing has two 40-seat classrooms.

A cloistered courtyard with an arcade connects to Simons-Law’s historic arch providing a covered walkway from the Oldenburg Quadrangle at the center of campus to the outside perimeter of the building. Capitalizing on the area’s temperate climate, the courtyard will serve as a regular gathering space and occasional outdoor classroom.
Designed by Lord Aeck Sargent architects, the Broyles Leadership Center is expected to earn at least LEED silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. The firm also designed the seminary’s new student residence hall. That facility, opened three years ago, is the first in Decatur, Georgia, to earn LEED gold certification.

New South Construction served as general contractor for the new leadership center as well as the student residence hall. The project manager was Morgan Constructors.

“Green” features of the Vernon S. Broyles Jr. Leadership Center

Over 90 percent of the original Simons-Law structure and exterior skin is still in place in the new center.  Recycled and regional construction materials were used, and construction waste was recycled and processed off-site, then reused to the greatest extent possible. The shingles, for example, are made from post-production diaper manufacturing waste. The bricks, steel, and carpet (also made from recycled materials) are from Georgia sources.

Four types of flooring are used in the center. That in the tower was milled locally from a mature oak that stood at the end of Simons-Law. The wood flooring everywhere else is made from bamboo, a grass that re-grows rapidly. The carpet is made from recycled material, and the linoleum is made from linseed oil, jute, and cork—all natural materials.

The center uses 40 percent less energy than a typically designed building. “Green” design strategies include energy-efficient windows and above-average insulation values. A high-efficiency variable refrigerant system transfers waste heat or cooling from spaces to provide the needed heating or cooling for other spaces before reconditioning the air with electricity.

The center’s orientation minimizes unwanted glare and heat gain and takes advantage of trees to provide sun shading. Large windows take advantage of natural light as much as possible, provide access to views, and use sunscreens to reduce direct solar gain where appropriate. To improve energy efficiency, lighting includes motion sensor switching, energy efficient lamps.

Indoor air quality is protected through the use of paints, glues, sealants, carpets, and casework that emit fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and don’t emit the unpleasant odors often associated with new construction.

Water efficiencies include rainwater collection for landscape irrigation, and water saving plumbing fixtures. Rain chains and downspouts channel water into the basement tanks. Excess storm water runoff is stored under the parking lot and cleaned before release for irrigation.

Columbia Theological Seminary, located in Decatur, GA, was established in 1828 and is one of 10 theological institutions of the Presbyterian Church (USA). The seminary offers seven graduate degree programs: Master of Divinity, Master of Arts (Theological Studies), Master of Arts in Practical Theology, Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry, Doctor of Educational Ministry, and Doctor of Theology in Pastoral Counseling. Currently 421 students are enrolled, representing 30 denominations, 34 states, and 10 countries. More information:

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Michael Thompson
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