The Kline Center Addition is the first building completed during my nearly four year tenure here at CannonDesign.
The building is located in Carlisle Pennsylvania, were I was born and grew up. This is also the town where my father and grandfather who were both architects practiced for so many years. So for me it was an extremely unique and emotionally charged opportunity. I think in the end, I can safely say I finally feel like one of the club.
Dickinson is one of the oldest colleges in the United States and its first building, Old West, was designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe. The designer of the United States Capital Building, British born Latrobe is sometimes referred to as ‘the Father of American Architecture’. The historic campus is a beautiful collection of simple gray limestone buildings which are detailed in a fairly minimalist Quaker-like style. There are a number of contemporary buildings on campus from both recent and the late 60’s/70 which are also delineated in limestone.
They say that behind every good building is a good client and this project certainly bears that out. The College President Bill Durden, the Athletic Director Les Poolman, Dean of Admissions Stephanie Balmer, Ken Schultes VP for Sustainability and Facilities Planning, and College Trustee Sylvia Smith (a fellow architect who is a principal at FXFOWEL here in NYC) who led the campus committee on facilities were all interested in pushing design boundaries and in making a sustainable building that fit the college’s vision for the campus. They were demanding, intelligent, patient and a genuine pleasure to work with.
The team was also made up of an exceptional group of architects and engineers. Phil Dordai the project principal and project architects, Demos Simatos, Patrick Delahoy and structural engineer Stephanie Hautzinger all worked above and beyond to match the design intent with reality. The architectural photographer, Scott
Frances, created some amazing images from his two day adventure in rural Pennsylvania.
The Kline Center Addition is designed as the first phase of a multi-phased renovation of Dickinson College’s Kline Athletic Center. Its form and location was determined by a comprehensive master plan that projects space for new lockers, fitness space, workout studios, squash courts, athletic offices, a basketball arena and natatorium within the existing Kline Center site.
The existing building, a unique structure designed by the architect Daniel Tully, was also constructed on a number of other College and University campuses during the same era. Its major architectural feature is the design of its long span roof, made up of a timber framed, hyperbolic parabola; it forms an active mountain-like profile on the campus skyline. The natural wood on the underside of the roof structure combined with a lack of natural light make you feel cut-off from the world outside. We intend the new addition to both relate to and at the same time be the antithesis of the existing Kline Center. This project is a reimagining of the Kline Center or a ‘Re-Kline’ as Dickinson’s now emeritus President Bill Durden once astutely acknowledged. The Squash and Fitness Center will use a conceptually similar robust structural system, though here detailed in steel and specifically designed for each unique program space, while the interior public spaces will be beautifully lit with natural light.
Urbanistically, the new building plays a number of important roles. The Kline Center forms the western terminus of a major campus pedestrian route, Dickinson Walk. The new building extends to the corner of Cherry and West High Street to visually announce athletics to the campus proper. With its open, light-filled design, energy-efficient systems and indoor-outdoor social areas, the Kline expansion blurs the lines between the natural and the manmade, and its visual extension of Dickinson Walk - a pathway through the heart of the campus - creates a clear straight line that connects the Kline Center to the rest of the campus.
Meant for students to pause and hang out, the entry court is populated with tables and chairs and ringed by a stone wall with built-in benches. Directly inside is a new student commons; a sky lit lobby which starts the organizing concourse that will eventually link all the athletic activities. The commons contains a small café, numerous study spaces and can be configured for a variety of student programs and activities. Off of the commons is the entry to the fitness center which is organized on two levels with views out to Cherry and West High streets. A covered porch extends south from the fitness center. It can be used for a variety of exercise programs such as yoga, tae
kwon do, or just stretching. Squash courts are tucked into the interior of the plan and have a glass walled show court that animates the interior sky-lit concourse.
The spaces around the new building, designed by the landscape architect Yaki Miodovnik of Andropogon Associates, have been designed to perform as a sustainable landscape. Rain gardens capture and slow the water runoff from adjacent streets. A large below grade water retention system is hidden below the South Porch Terrace. Temporary functions (a 1/2 court basketball and a Tai Chi lawn) fill the spaces between the exiting Kline Center and the new Fitness and Squash Center which will eventually be filled in with future phases of development.
We have incorporated a number of sustainable strategies into the Kline center’s design. Chief among these is the desire to fill the public spaces of the building with natural light and allow for the seasonal use of natural ventilation. Outside the building a system of exterior metal sunshades diffuses and buffers natural light, while inside a series of strategic skylights admits filtered light to the lobby, concourse and fitness center. A system of low level hopper windows and ceiling fans are incorporated within the fitness skylight enclosure system will provide for swing season natural ventilation of the fitness center, lobby and concourse.
What is ultimately special about this building for me is that it fits the place on its own terms. I want the building to be uplifting, memorable experience for people who use it and that it make a positive impact on the campus as a whole.
Cannon Design , Grand Island
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