SUNY Institute of Technology, Student Center
The project was designed to meet the requirements of Executive Order 111 and LEED® Silver Certification.
American Institute of Architects, CNY Chapter, Citation for Design Award in the Educational Category, 2011
Featured on Arch Daily (an international architectural website featuring top projects in design)
SUNY Institute of Technology transitioned from a commuter-based institution, serving the local community, to a destination college attracting students from the northeast region and internationally. With this change came the urgent need for a place for students to unwind between/after classes, but more importantly, a place to meet for the sharing of ideas and experiences within a lively, thought-provoking environment. Three primary siting goals were identified: respond 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 campus development organizing elements. Due to its pivotal role in student life, the Student Center is positioned immediately adjacent to the intersection of these two primary elements. The Center’s siting also becomes a destination building as seen from the major campus entry point and announces the campus core. The Center design applies a strong orthogonal building edge, incorporated with existing buildings, to 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 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 for a technology aesthetic. 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 the 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 accommodates areas with the highest student interaction or require proximity to loading and service. Those spaces include dining, server and support, multi-purpose, storage and mechanical areas. The second floor was “carved” away in numerous locations to allow for multiple vantage points and overlooks. Floor openings mimic the rotated geometries of the exterior envelope, providing lounge spaces with the opportunity to “see and be seen”.