A school of architecture building should provide collaborative space to encourage innovation among students, faculty, and beyond the school of architecture by being a building of interaction and inspiration while serving as the foremost leading environmentally designed building on campus.
The main ideas I had when starting the project was to have large open studio spaces and a strong connection to the outdoors. We all know architecture students are notorious for not getting outside nearly as often as they should so I wanted to bring the outside, in. For the façade, I wanted to utilize glass curtain walls and vertical wooden louvers throughout the exterior of the mass timber structure to filter the amount of sunlight coming into the building throughout various times of the day, which was important since I was including a large amount of vegetation on the first level. I wanted the atrium to remain as open as possible and free of columns so I spaced the glu-lam columns around the centered triangular atrium. This made the largest span between the columns a little over sixty feet so I added parallel trusses for more structural support.
For the first level, I put the gallery space right off Naismith Dr., the front of the building, so pedestrians walking by could see inside and look at all the projects on display. This would hopefully encourage them to want to come inside and see more. In addition to those two spaces a café was added because it’s important architecture students have food while working long hours in the studio. The second level was placed on the north and east sides of the building to allow more of the southwest sunlight to come into the lobby seating area that includes all the vegetation. This leaves the southwest side free of a floorplan on the second level. On this level, I wanted the gallery space to have a double height ceiling so student’s work could be displayed from the faculty lounge. The third level provides open and interchangeable studio spaces. Since architecture schools are constantly changing, having compatible spaces for studios now as well as in the future, is the responsible and sustainable way to design and build the school. The third floor was also pushed out because of sun studies that were carried out, which verified more sunlight was able to access the first floor by shifting the third level floor plan to the southwest. This in turn created a nice entryway on the southwest side of level one. The second and third levels also have access to outdoor terraces. Level four includes the classrooms which made sense when designing because in an architecture school, they are the rooms used the least.
The architecture school includes a design build lab which is becoming increasingly important for architecture schools across the nation and world so it was an essential part of the program. To combat the issue of the lab feeling totally separated from the main building I provided a strong connection on the south side of the lab. On level one, this area includes large bay or garage doors, that are aesthetically pleasing, that can go up when the weather is nice so pedestrians can look into and be a part of the wood, metal, and Digifab shops. Each of these shops include large doors on the south and north sides of their spaces allowing access to the outside and inside of the main design build lab. The only exception is the wood shop because it extends westward beyond the design build lab so this space would have an entrance on the south side like the other individual labs and then an entrance into the main design build lab on the east side, just directly above the Digifab shop (see first floor plan). On the second and third level of this connection space between the design build lab and the main building, there are outdoor terraces. These terraces are meant to serve as dining or meeting spaces that encourage people to look into the windows or glass curtain walls of the shops. There’s a large glass curtain wall on the south side of the third level allowing natural light to come into the shop and giving visitors displays of the shop. These outdoor connection spaces will serve as a hub for anyone on campus to come to and dine, take a break in-between classes, or to interact with the shops.
The interactive spaces like the gallery and shops will grab people’s attention from all over campus and encourage them to come and be a part of the new architecture school. The open atrium space allows the building to breath and to include interaction from multiple levels. The gallery space, vegetated seating area in the lobby, and the outdoor terraces that encourage interaction with the shops are all experiences that would set this building apart from any other building on campus. Having a mass Timber structure with exposed CLT flooring and glulam columns enhances the idea of bringing the outdoors, in. The warmth of the wood and greenery of the vegetation area is viewable from any level and allows the building to feel more like a home for students who work long hours. The warmth of the wood also makes the building more inviting for other people on campus.