Contract - Design Shaping the 21st Century College Campus

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Design Shaping the 21st Century College Campus

16 March, 2012

-By David J. Neuman, FAIA



With the expansion of for-profit colleges, on-site corporate-sponsored degree programs and online classes from prestigious universities, design professionals wonder if there is an optimistic future for the traditional campus-bound institutions of higher education. The answer, in a word, is “yes,” due largely to shared objectives—such as sustainability, collaboration, branding, and efficiency—in the design and construction of college and university buildings and interiors.

The simple fact is that while e-classes and social networking streamline certain daily activities, including intellectual exchange and community engagement, they do not replace the needs for human interchange, inquiry, and debate that face-to-face campus-based environments allow. Instead, the e-classes and social networking interactions can augment the potential of these human encounters if there is a well-designed physical setting provided by the institutional environment.

Two well-documented trends in higher education, sustainability and collaboration, are evident in the growing commitments of traditional colleges and universities to expanding investments in terms of both institutional and financial capital. Sustainability is seen, for example, in public pledges, such as the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and stated capital project goals of especially sustainable features to obtain higher levels of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification for a building. The collaboration trend is exemplified in the spiraling emphasis on technology-rich environments and collaborative capacities for open and universal Internet accessibility. Jargon aside, in-situ higher education is seriously investing in people and facilities to complement the conventional Socratic method of education.

The other two evolving trends, branding and efficiency, can be perceived to be somewhat at odds with each other, as well as the first two trends noted above, in that they can be misconstrued to mean “traditional” and “cheap.” However, that is not the case as each term speaks to contemporary American culture in its drive to be known for both its traditions and its adaptation. Higher education has often been overly secure in its place in society, but recently has experienced overt scrutiny in both its funding and its management procedures. The response of the better institutions has been to promote both their worth and effectiveness. Physical representations of these qualities in the form of impressive campus facilities have taken on new authority.

Four recent projects, all noteworthy for excellent design, exemplify these four trends. Each project exhibits, in its own fashion and in varying degrees, characteristics that define a significant collegiate experience in 2012. For example, sustainability and efficiency can achieve savings in both the conventional energy of infrastructure and in human energy measured as time. Likewise, branding and collaborative learning can both be utilized in a beautifully designed facility that contrasts memories of the campus history with opportunities of tomorrow.

Sustainability and collaboration
A building that exhibits a very literal integration of these trends, the Bowdoin College Studzinski Recital Hall designed by William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc., in Brunswick, Maine, is exemplar due to its adaptive reuse of an important historic natatorium structure’s shell and the insertion of a contemporary rehearsal and performance space. Bowdoin College has more than a dozen McKim, Mead, and White structures including this former natatorium that had been vacated for more than two decades. This building was a part of the historic identity of the college, and now it has become an integral part of its recognition as an environmentally conscious and socially responsible liberal arts institution. The project’s success readily demonstrates sustainability principles, especially through saving embodied energy and efficiency of land use, while memorably reinforcing the institution’s physical brand. In its degrees of flexibility of use, the recital hall allows for both group collaboration and individual investigation in the musical arts.

In contrast to the preservation of an important campus landmark, the Claude Moore Medical Education Building at the University of Virginia, by CO Architects, Inc. is a recognizable landmark for the School of Medicine. Its program includes a simulation center for student training in mock operating and emergency rooms, a clinical practice suite with mock exam rooms and two major learning spaces, and a traditional tiered lecture hall and a flat-floor flexible learning center that are each able to house an entire 160-person class. With the University of Virginia brand so associated with Thomas Jefferson’s open approach to higher education and his original architecture in the Academical Village, including The Rotunda that he designed, the School of Medicine building has a noteworthy cylindrical structure as part of its building. The resulting circular interior space is ideal in housing both the tiered lecture hall and the flexible learning center. The design produced not only an iconic structure that achieved LEED Silver, but also one that effectively has fostered a dramatic change in the pedagogy of the School of Medicine to one of efficiency and collaborative learning according to the current dean and his faculty.

Branding and efficiency
While many university libraries struggle with how to adapt to the drastic changes associated with the rise of online information and resources and its impact on published documents, the University of Chicago took the issues head-on in the design and development of the new Joe and Rita Mansueto Library by Murphy/Jahn Architects. Rather than abandoning the book in favor of digital access alone, the University of Chicago provides for both contemporary and traditional sources of information in this interior in an especially dramatic fashion. Sited directly next to historic Regenstein Library in the heart of the campus, this new library is topped by a dramatic glass-domed, elliptically shaped reading room that recalls the naturally lit major public spaces of numerous memorable libraries around the world. Extending 50 feet underground, an automated storage and retrieval system is capable of storing 3.5 million volumes, any one of which is available within five minutes of a request at the service desk. HVAC requirements are reduced with the significant storage volume within the earth, and sophisticated contemporary glass technologies that maximize natural light in the reading room while also controlling both UV intrusion and solar heat gain. The Mansueto Library exhibits the finest in efficiency and iconography of learning spaces in one project.

Likewise, the Diana Center at Barnard College in New York by Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism merges characteristics of sustainability, colla­boration, branding, and efficiency in skillful and exciting fashion. The building, which won a 2011 AIA Institute Honor Award for Architecture, combines spaces normally relegated to separate facilities including a black-box theater, a large multipurpose space for classes, theater, and special events, faculty offices and dining, a student café and reading room, along with a large green roof that serves the College’s Biology and Environmental Sciences program. It has established a new physical manifestation of Barnard’s brand as distinct from its larger neighbor Columbia University, across Broadway in Manhattan, and has attained LEED Gold. By utilizing a glass-enclosed fire stairs as both a mingling space and observation deck overlooking the rest of the campus, a new level of efficiency of space is achieved.

Four trends of the contemporary campus milieu from sustainability and collaboration to branding and efficiency shown in these four buildings and their interiors only scratch the surface of the wide variety of projects that have been recently developed at colleges and universities, or are now being planned. A new depth of creative thinking is now being applied in designing the interiors of these research and learning environments.



David J. Neuman, FAIA, is the Architect for the University of Virginia, where he oversees more than $3 billion in capital projects and guides the stewardship of the cultural resources of the Academical Village desig­ned by Thomas Jefferson. He previously served as University Architect and Associate Vice Provost for Planning at Stanford University, and Campus Architect and Associate Vice Chancellor for Planning at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of Building Type Basics for College and University Facilities (Wiley, 2003). A second edition of the book will release in fall 2012.

Photo by Robert Canfield Photography




Top image: The Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago, designed by Murphy/Jahn Architects, has a dramatic glass-domed reading room. Sophisticated glass technology controls UV penetration and solar heat gain. Photo by Jason Smith.



Design Shaping the 21st Century College Campus

16 March, 2012


Jason Smith

With the expansion of for-profit colleges, on-site corporate-sponsored degree programs and online classes from prestigious universities, design professionals wonder if there is an optimistic future for the traditional campus-bound institutions of higher education. The answer, in a word, is “yes,” due largely to shared objectives—such as sustainability, collaboration, branding, and efficiency—in the design and construction of college and university buildings and interiors.

The simple fact is that while e-classes and social networking streamline certain daily activities, including intellectual exchange and community engagement, they do not replace the needs for human interchange, inquiry, and debate that face-to-face campus-based environments allow. Instead, the e-classes and social networking interactions can augment the potential of these human encounters if there is a well-designed physical setting provided by the institutional environment.

Two well-documented trends in higher education, sustainability and collaboration, are evident in the growing commitments of traditional colleges and universities to expanding investments in terms of both institutional and financial capital. Sustainability is seen, for example, in public pledges, such as the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and stated capital project goals of especially sustainable features to obtain higher levels of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification for a building. The collaboration trend is exemplified in the spiraling emphasis on technology-rich environments and collaborative capacities for open and universal Internet accessibility. Jargon aside, in-situ higher education is seriously investing in people and facilities to complement the conventional Socratic method of education.

The other two evolving trends, branding and efficiency, can be perceived to be somewhat at odds with each other, as well as the first two trends noted above, in that they can be misconstrued to mean “traditional” and “cheap.” However, that is not the case as each term speaks to contemporary American culture in its drive to be known for both its traditions and its adaptation. Higher education has often been overly secure in its place in society, but recently has experienced overt scrutiny in both its funding and its management procedures. The response of the better institutions has been to promote both their worth and effectiveness. Physical representations of these qualities in the form of impressive campus facilities have taken on new authority.

Four recent projects, all noteworthy for excellent design, exemplify these four trends. Each project exhibits, in its own fashion and in varying degrees, characteristics that define a significant collegiate experience in 2012. For example, sustainability and efficiency can achieve savings in both the conventional energy of infrastructure and in human energy measured as time. Likewise, branding and collaborative learning can both be utilized in a beautifully designed facility that contrasts memories of the campus history with opportunities of tomorrow.

Sustainability and collaboration
A building that exhibits a very literal integration of these trends, the Bowdoin College Studzinski Recital Hall designed by William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc., in Brunswick, Maine, is exemplar due to its adaptive reuse of an important historic natatorium structure’s shell and the insertion of a contemporary rehearsal and performance space. Bowdoin College has more than a dozen McKim, Mead, and White structures including this former natatorium that had been vacated for more than two decades. This building was a part of the historic identity of the college, and now it has become an integral part of its recognition as an environmentally conscious and socially responsible liberal arts institution. The project’s success readily demonstrates sustainability principles, especially through saving embodied energy and efficiency of land use, while memorably reinforcing the institution’s physical brand. In its degrees of flexibility of use, the recital hall allows for both group collaboration and individual investigation in the musical arts.

In contrast to the preservation of an important campus landmark, the Claude Moore Medical Education Building at the University of Virginia, by CO Architects, Inc. is a recognizable landmark for the School of Medicine. Its program includes a simulation center for student training in mock operating and emergency rooms, a clinical practice suite with mock exam rooms and two major learning spaces, and a traditional tiered lecture hall and a flat-floor flexible learning center that are each able to house an entire 160-person class. With the University of Virginia brand so associated with Thomas Jefferson’s open approach to higher education and his original architecture in the Academical Village, including The Rotunda that he designed, the School of Medicine building has a noteworthy cylindrical structure as part of its building. The resulting circular interior space is ideal in housing both the tiered lecture hall and the flexible learning center. The design produced not only an iconic structure that achieved LEED Silver, but also one that effectively has fostered a dramatic change in the pedagogy of the School of Medicine to one of efficiency and collaborative learning according to the current dean and his faculty.

Branding and efficiency
While many university libraries struggle with how to adapt to the drastic changes associated with the rise of online information and resources and its impact on published documents, the University of Chicago took the issues head-on in the design and development of the new Joe and Rita Mansueto Library by Murphy/Jahn Architects. Rather than abandoning the book in favor of digital access alone, the University of Chicago provides for both contemporary and traditional sources of information in this interior in an especially dramatic fashion. Sited directly next to historic Regenstein Library in the heart of the campus, this new library is topped by a dramatic glass-domed, elliptically shaped reading room that recalls the naturally lit major public spaces of numerous memorable libraries around the world. Extending 50 feet underground, an automated storage and retrieval system is capable of storing 3.5 million volumes, any one of which is available within five minutes of a request at the service desk. HVAC requirements are reduced with the significant storage volume within the earth, and sophisticated contemporary glass technologies that maximize natural light in the reading room while also controlling both UV intrusion and solar heat gain. The Mansueto Library exhibits the finest in efficiency and iconography of learning spaces in one project.

Likewise, the Diana Center at Barnard College in New York by Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism merges characteristics of sustainability, colla­boration, branding, and efficiency in skillful and exciting fashion. The building, which won a 2011 AIA Institute Honor Award for Architecture, combines spaces normally relegated to separate facilities including a black-box theater, a large multipurpose space for classes, theater, and special events, faculty offices and dining, a student café and reading room, along with a large green roof that serves the College’s Biology and Environmental Sciences program. It has established a new physical manifestation of Barnard’s brand as distinct from its larger neighbor Columbia University, across Broadway in Manhattan, and has attained LEED Gold. By utilizing a glass-enclosed fire stairs as both a mingling space and observation deck overlooking the rest of the campus, a new level of efficiency of space is achieved.

Four trends of the contemporary campus milieu from sustainability and collaboration to branding and efficiency shown in these four buildings and their interiors only scratch the surface of the wide variety of projects that have been recently developed at colleges and universities, or are now being planned. A new depth of creative thinking is now being applied in designing the interiors of these research and learning environments.



David J. Neuman, FAIA, is the Architect for the University of Virginia, where he oversees more than $3 billion in capital projects and guides the stewardship of the cultural resources of the Academical Village desig­ned by Thomas Jefferson. He previously served as University Architect and Associate Vice Provost for Planning at Stanford University, and Campus Architect and Associate Vice Chancellor for Planning at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of Building Type Basics for College and University Facilities (Wiley, 2003). A second edition of the book will release in fall 2012.

Photo by Robert Canfield Photography




Top image: The Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago, designed by Murphy/Jahn Architects, has a dramatic glass-domed reading room. Sophisticated glass technology controls UV penetration and solar heat gain. Photo by Jason Smith.
 


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