Text description provided by the architects. Located in the Northeast quadrant of Campus, the General Studies School has served as threshold to thousands of students since the late 1960’s. A constantly growing student population called for a substantial addition to the existing faculty building.
The addition is a four-story reinforced concrete annex building which forms part of a new Master Plan and marks a new entrance to the eastern edge of Campus. Its east façade includes a monumental sculpture by a local artist in colored perforated aluminum that provides sun and hurricane protection. Bas-relief concrete walls with punched openings allow breezes and light to filter through and recall the pattern of the sunscreen.
The new building’s ground floor is a multi-functional open space adaptable to the wide needs of this school. Levels two and three contain classrooms oriented to the tree filled quad to the west while faculty offices behind the colorful sunscreen are oriented to the campus entry to the east. A fourth level contains the bulk of mechanical spaces. All levels and both sides of the building are unified by a multi-level sky lit gallery which serves not only as a place to meet but has a very important climatic role as it funnels cooling breezes throughout the building creating is a chimney effect.
The selection of materials such as exposed reinforced concrete and aluminum louvered windows responds to local market conditions and local construction labor force is well skilled in those materials. Aluminum extrusions were manufactured near San Juan and concrete is the local material of choice for seismic and extreme tropical weather conditions. Custom designed colored concrete benches complement the sober exposed concrete palette.