The 43,000 sq. ft. Student Center addresses three primary identified site goals: Response to the established Campus Master Plan, provide a “gateway” presence to the campus, and to create an exterior gathering space for staff and students. The Campus Master Plan’s “Arc & Spine” are the primary campus development organizing elements, and due to its pivotal role in student life, the Student Center is positioned immediately adjacent to the intersection of these two major elements. The Center’s siting also becomes a destination building as seen from the major campus entry point, and announces the campus core. A strong orthogonal building edge is incorporated into the Center to, along with existing buildings, define a central green space, with adjoining outdoor dining located along main pedestrian circulation.
Conceptually, the building has two differing “faces” – the campus entry and the campus core. From the campus entry side, the building utilizes traditional brick masonry to reflect the materials of the existing campus, but is treated as simple planes that undergo an angular transformation. The planes of brick rotate from the northeast to the southwest, corresponding to the existing buildings, and the Master Plan’s organizing “Spine”. In contrast, the campus core sides of the building are treated with aluminum composite panels suggesting an aesthetic associated with technology. The concept of expressed planes continues in the form of a contemporary entry frontispiece, sun shading screens, and the color change of the metal panels in response to building massing and program. The level of “transparency” or glazing on the campus core elevations increases dramatically and allows for a more visual connection to the events taking place on the green space as well as extensive views to the building’s interior.
Internally, the Student Center program is organized with spaces that encourage continual movement throughout the building and floors over the course of the entire day and into the evening. Interior finishes are simple, crisp, and utilize strategically placed color changing LED lighting to introduce colored planes/surfaces.
The first floor is designed to accommodate areas that have the highest potential student interaction and benefit from at grade access or proximity to loading and service. These spaces include dining, servery and support, multi-purpose spaces, storage, and mechanical space. The main two-sided entrance lobby provides a two-storied space with views to primary activity zones with a separate circulation path to multipurpose rooms for ease of access for public functions. Two open stairs, one adjacent to the lobby, the other near a supplementary north entrance, offer an expedient connection to the upper level and encourage use in lieu of the elevator.
The second floor has been “carved” away in numerous locations allowing for multiple vantage points and overlooks. The configuration of the floor openings mimic the rotated geometries of the exterior envelope, and provide variously scaled lounge spaces. Adjacent to the main lobby, the Coffeehouse/Bar provides a more intimate, later evening venue for smaller groups and live acoustic music. Circulation along the edge of the upper level, overlooking the main dining area, leads to a common lounge with entrances to the two office suites dedicated to Campus Media and Student Activities. The remainder of the upper floor is devoted to a small tiered theater/lecture room and across a small “bridge”, the remote Ecumenical suite, including its contemplative meeting space.
Text provided by QPK Design.