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The Wheeler School, Nulman Lewis Student Center, Providence, United States

Tuesday 07 Jul 2009

Giving community back to the school

David Lamb Architectural Photography 
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Student center provides a unified gateway, and a community core 

Constructed on a very narrow site between two buildings previously used for school maintenance activities, the new Nulman Lewis Student Center, designed by Ann Beha Architects, creates an exciting and innovative new arrival hub and community core for The Wheeler School.

It is a small building that makes some big campus connections and a welcoming student gateway, linking home life and school life. It’s a place where the day-to-day activities of students, faculty, and staff merge, and where the kinds of friendships and informal inter-generational gatherings, so important in academic settings, can easily occur. It’s also a bridge, physically connecting two existing structures of very different character- the Student Union and the historic Alumni house, unifying a key corner of the campus and giving the interior courtyard a new edge.

With its strong street presence, the new Student Center was conceived as a welcoming and transparent gateway to the campus. From the street, it serves as the new student arrival and drop off, and offers dramatic views of the School’s lively interior courtyard. The first floor, with its tall open space, links the historic Alumni House with a new café in the renovated Student Union, providing additional seating, and a community mixing space for activities and gatherings.

Two new science classrooms, with views of the campus and surrounding neighbourhood, are accommodated on the upper level. The Student Center is clad with a distinctive horizontal glass and zinc panel curtain wall system, offering a balance of visibility and opacity. Its massing responds to the residential scale of the adjacent neighbourhood, and to the architectural organization of its companion buildings.

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Ann Beha Architects

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