WEISS / MANFREDI has been announced as winner of the international competition to design a new College of Architecture and Environmental Design for Kent State University in Ohio. The New York-based practice, in collaboration with the local architect of record Richard L. Bowen & Associates, was one of four national finalists selected from a competitive list of 37 applicants.
The winning proposal, dubbed the Kent State Design Loft, transforms the notion of a continuous studio loft into a three-tiered structure that opens to the city, connects to the public esplanade and surrounding landscape, and provides an abundance of creatively designed, flexible learning spaces that can be easily transformed to accommodate design crits, exhibitions and events.
“We are captivated by the potential for this project to become an innovative incubator for the arts and an internationally legible destination for the University,” said Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi.
The architect’s project description after the break…
The Design Loft is a site for new connections. Sited strategically at the hinge between campus and city, the Design Loft forms a new hub connecting the college with the City of Kent. Anchoring the public level is a continuous gallery that opens to the university’s new outdoor Esplanade. The gallery is an ascending sequence of spaces that can be connected and reconfigured to support a range of uses and events including a café, exhibition areas, a flexible event space, a reading room, and a resource library. A continuous studio loft forms the heart of the program. Open studios are configured to maximize flexibility to accommodate a growing program and evolving modes of learning in architecture and design education.
The 125,000 square-foot building establishes an innovative center for the design disciplines and creates a new window onto the creative, artistic, and research-based programs of the College. The studio’s tiered design informs the building massing, bridging the institutional and residential scales of its neighbors. The massing and materials of the new building reflect the material context of the campus and the surrounding community. A continuous stair on the north façade allows for generous amphitheater steps that connect studio critique spaces and create opportunities for spontaneous discussion. Slender clerestory lights within the critique spaces bring light into the center of the floor and improve natural ventilation. The efficient form of the building maximizes daylight and minimizes energy use throughout. The south facade is activated by a continuous fire stair that connects the studio levels. Conceived as a vertical campus quad, this cantilevered route interweaves the spaces of the building into those of the campus.
The design presents an integrated approach to sustainability that maximizes passive opportunities including daylight and natural ventilation, employs efficient strategies for building and landscape systems, maximizes the use of regional and recycled materials, and supports sustainable maintenance and operations for future generations. As a model for sustainable design for the University and the city, Design Loft illustrates the key role of architecture and design in envisioning a sustainable future.
Project description courtesy of WEISS / MANFREDI.
“This selection provides the College of Architecture and Environmental Design with a striking idea about both the visual and functional aspects of our programs,” Douglas Steidl, dean of Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design said. “We are excited to move on to the next level of design with a concept that will attract the best faculty and outstanding students to all of our programs. This scheme will enhance the learning experience, facilitate collaboration and inspire those of us who are users as well as those who observe it from the community.”
The new architecture building is part of the university’s campus transformation, called “Foundations of Excellence: Building the Future,” which involves the construction of new buildings, facility upgrades and establishment of dynamic, new spaces. The goal of this initiative is to create a modern campus that offers an outstanding academic experience and enriches the greater community of Kent, Ohio.
Now that the architecture team has been selected, the winning team will refine the design and develope detailed drawings to ensure that the constructed building serves both the college and the university in the best possible way.
Construction of the new building is anticipated to begin in spring 2014 with the goal of occupancy in December 2015.