Text description provided by the architects. There are three primary purposes for creating the Mandel Humanities Center (MHC):
• provide a place which brings people together and fosters discourse
• provide a place to foster interdisciplinary research among the Humanities and Sciences
• bring together different disciplines and different people…span all the communities. The actual program consists of providing space for teaching, research and gathering
Site Concept: Building as Bridge and Gateway
The MHC is sited as a gateway building to the Humanities Quad at the highest point of the Brandeis Campus on Cedar Hill. The placement in front of the existing Olin-Sang Building seeks to bridge the space between the rest of the Brandeis Campus and the Humanities Quad. The spatial design is built around an internal pathway that extends the external walkway rising through the campus terraces ascending the hill.
Design Concept: Building as Mixing Chamber
The design provides spaces of varying purposes and scales to facilitate interaction:
• Spatial promenade weaving the MHC and Olin-Sang together with Brandeis Campus
• Three Story Forum along with Group Studies overlooking this space
• Office “neighborhoods” at each floor that include a reception/ gathering area, meeting room and galley kitchen as places to interact
The design weaves together a glazed building form and brick building form to create an assemblage linked to the fabric of the Brandeis campus while offering openness, visibility and energy. The glazed portion encompasses the public type spaces such as the Forum and Open Office Areas which all face south, makes visible the activities in these spaces from the exterior and provides optimum natural light to the interior.
Sunshades reduce solar heat gain during summer months and energy consumption for air conditioning. The brick portion extends the architecture of the brick buildings comprising the Humanities Quad. The brick wall encloses the private faculty offices and with the aid of single large windows associated with each office evokes the individuality of a “monks study” within the collective fabric of the building.