Elegant and resolute, the Student Development Center (SDC) at Florida Polytechnic University (FPU) in Lakeland, Florida, USA, portrays the creative spirit and interactive vibe of a blooming academic and research community located in an emerging technology corridor. With a form inspired by the student-selected mascot and a material palette aligned with Santiago Calatrava’s signature Innovation, Science and Technology (IST) Building and original campus master plan, the facility emboldens students, faculty, staff and extended community members to advance their wellness and academic pursuits. With an architectural program directly linked to the student body, the Student Development Center successfully reflects the dynamic student culture that recently played an active role in the selection and development process of the university’s mascot, the Phoenix. Imagery and connotations of the phoenix are not only emblematic of the university’s research-focused scholastic vision, but also metaphorically symbolize the building’s focus on health and wellness. Exercise activities initiate a phoenix-like “regeneration and renewal” through personal physical fitness during periodic intermissions of academic endeavors. Managing Principal Tim Hoeft, AIA conceived the building’s form as an opportunity to promote institutional brand awareness through a contemporary gesture of architecture parlante, or “speaking architecture”. With a site location on campus with high visibility from an adjacent highway, the building design serves as an outward physical display of school spirit to the greater Central Florida community.
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