by Michael Tyre
Choosing a college is a daunting yet thrilling rite of passage for many. Quinnipiac University wants to let prospective students know the school’s opportunities will allow them to reach for the stars.
The new Admissions Center, with its dramatic, luminous, “starry night” perforated ceiling and balcony overhang, makes it a campus beacon on the main quad, engaging users of the space and the broader campus. The Amenta Emma design team listened carefully to stakeholders about their vision for the space and developed a transformative first-floor renovation to an existing campus building that is both digital and immersive.
The space is divided into three distinct areas: reception, lounge, and private meeting areas, complemented by a new outdoor patio that fronts the main quad. The lounge – the spatial and experiential heart of the admissions center – is an open, flexible space that can easily be reprogrammed. It is defined by the luminous ceiling and a 52-foot-long digital display for storytelling and messaging to engage potential students. A variety of casual and welcoming furnishings populate the lounge and afford the opportunity to utilize the room for group and individual events.
The center’s showstopper, unquestionably, is the perforated ceiling, which extends from inside the lounge to cover and weatherproof an inviting outdoor patio. Amenta Emma designers thought an illuminated ceiling was the right call, as it has a digital feel and looks techy and modern. Designers then worked out the ceiling’s different densities and perforation patterns to accomplish a gradient that begins brightly and fades to solid.
Additional design features that reinforce the experiential and expressive themes Quinnipiac sought to convey are branding elements – graphics, historical timelines, and an “Instagram wall” – developed in collaboration with the university’s marketing group. The new glass facade opens the building to dramatic views of the quad, while significantly improving daylight access to the space and broadcasting dynamic digital content to the campus beyond. Sustainability features include improved energy efficiency and the use of interior finishes to promote occupant health and well-being.
The design captures the university’s aspirations, not only to accommodate a variety of visitor groups, but to have a flexible platform to express their institutional identity and values through design.
Michael Tyre, AIA, LEED AP is a principal in Amenta Emma’s Higher Education studio.