Hartford, CT – Vernon Social was created from an underwhelming space on the campus of Trinity College for the purpose of giving all students a fun, modern place to meet, eat, study, and relax.
Before the design process began, the team at Tecton, together with the administration at Trinity College, sought to reflect the true needs of Trinity’s students, particularly those who were not involved in Greek life. It was imperative, therefore, to include them in the planning, so the dean of students championed action with Tecton and interviews were set up to solicit survey feedback.
A charter committee was formed, and every Trinity student was encouraged to participate, from initial meetings through to a final presentation of the interior design choices. This inclusive strategy gave Tecton the design direction it needed to completely transform the existing, centrally located building that was underutilized except for the occasional administrative meeting or party, to a vibrant space where every student was equal, welcome, and comfortable.
The design is flexible and has multiuse spaces that combine practicality with educational and social enrichment. A warm and colorful aesthetic was inspired from two distinctive features — the existing vaulted wood ceiling and the celebrated Sol LeWitt mural, and we divided the 7,000sf into smaller hubs to accommodate a variety of functions: dining, artistic performances, relaxation, and quiet study.
One of the signature features enjoyed by all is the bleacher style seating that overlooks the stage area to allow students to comfortably watch a variety of performers from guest speakers to musical acts to films. Another feature is a fun and welcoming “quiet study room” that doesn’t require students to choose between undisturbed study and functional needs like eating (a rare thing to come by on a college campus).
The entire space was equipped with the very latest, controllable high-end AV system that can balance the quiet areas with the louder social area. Large projection screens are located throughout the space with a significantly larger drop-down screen at the stage.
The AV system also serves as additional security for the campus; it can provide emergency notifications to keep the community safe and informed. Finally, there are dining options and accommodations located in the main concourse, as well as a convenience store. On the exterior of the building, a new patio with a fire pit was added for students gathering in the evening.
Now Vernon Social is the first stop on the tour for prospective freshmen and their parents. It has made a positive impact on Trinity’s campus community with its blend of practical, educational, and social functions designed so students don’t have to choose between studying, socializing, and taking care of themselves. Furthermore, its range of uses encourages students to engage with their university and their peers, regardless of Greek affiliation, so that they feel connected to and inspired by, their learning community.