The Marshall & Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center Wins Design Award

Rinker Center

Glass walls reduce the need for artificial lighting in the Marshall & Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center. A metal roof reflects heat and helps to keep the building cool. LED lighting inside and solar-powered lights in the parking lot reduce electric consumption. Native plants in the landscaping require less water.

Stetson President Wendy Libby speaks at opening ceremony for Welcome Center
Stetson University President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., addresses the crowd at the grand opening of the Rinker Welcome Center in September.

The Rinker Welcome Center was designed with environmental conservation in mind. Before it opened, the $7 million building at Stetson University earned Green Globes Certification for a number of design features, including energy and water efficiency, and the brick exterior, which requires little maintenance.

The building was nominated for a Florida Planning and Zoning Association award and was chosen for the Outstanding Sustainability Initiative Award by the local Surfcoast Chapter, said chapter President Helen LaValley. The award recognizes a “project that is leading sustainability efforts” in Volusia and Flagler counties, according to the awards website.

The award will be presented Friday night, Dec. 9, at the Venetian Bay Golf Club in New Smyrna Beach.

The three-story brick and glass building opened in September and houses Admissions and Enrollment Management, a “one-stop” service area with the Registrar, Bursar and Financial Planning, meeting rooms, and Career and Professional Development for students and alumni.

John Stockham, a Volusia County planner and member of the local planning group, nominated the Rinker Welcome Center after organizing the group’s monthly lunch and learn program on Stetson’s DeLand campus in October. He worked with the guest speaker Clay Henderson, executive director of Stetson’s Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience, and Kara Cummings, marketing manager for Stetson’s School of Business Administration, he said.

Henderson spoke about a new certificate program on Sustainable Management that Stetson will begin offering in the spring semester to businesses. Once Stockham learned about the Rinker Welcome Center and all that Stetson was doing on Sustainability, he decided to nominate the building for the award, he said.

Rinker Center
The grand opening of the Rinker Welcome Center attracted a crowd in September.

“The Rinker building is an excellent example of a center that blends in with the wonderful architectural style and scenic beauty of the campus and is a responsible addition in terms of water use and low energy needs,” Stockham wrote in an email.

His nomination letter mentions the building’s Green Globes Certification. And it cites a number of features, including the 50-year metal roof, which can be recycled; LED lighting inside that uses 75 percent less energy; and Stetson’s efforts to reduce water consumption by using reclaimed water for irrigation and low-flow plumbing fixtures, said LaValley, the group’s president. Rain water from the building, sidewalks and parking lots also is captured in underground chambers that help replenish the Florida Aquifer.

See time lapse video of the construction.

Al Allen, associate vice president for Stetson’s Facilities Management Department, oversaw the project and will attend the awards gala Friday night with his wife, and eight others from the Stetson community and the project team.

“We want the Welcome Center to serve as an example for other institutions as they design their future buildings,” Allen said. “It is a great example of an efficient and sustainable building.”

The building was funded through donations, including one from John and Sheila Rinker through the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Foundation.

“Five years ago when we were talking to John Rinker about this, I said, ‘We’re going to build an iconic building and it will be a model for energy and water efficiency,’ “ Allen recalled. “And we did just that. It wasn’t by happenstance. It was all planned.”

-Cory Lancaster