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Mary M. Gates Learning Center at United Way Worldwide, Alexandria, VA, United States

Tuesday 28 Jun 2011

Building something new in something old

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TPG Architecture renovate the UWW to create a new learning centre. 

United Way Worldwide (UWW) resides in a 120,000 square foot building on the Potomac River in Alexandria, VA. Built in 1982 and wholly owned by UWW, the building has not undergone any significant décor or infrastructure updates in its lifetime. This project includes the conversion of an out-of-date broadcast studio and tape storage facility (located within a 30,000 square foot annex) into the Mary M. Gates Learning Centre.

The renovation began with removing approximately 40% of the original pre-cast concrete panels from the exterior of the annex building and replacing them with an energy efficient glass curtain wall system. The lobby entrance housed a massive cubiform passageway which, located directly in the centre of the lobby, obstructed use of the space. The new lobby was made twice as large, from 30' to 60' wide, and created a community space that would thrive in the natural light.

The increase in space was achieved by relocating the stair and foot bridge to a more favorable location and by co-opting the area of several underutilized rooms. Footbridges on the 2nd floor along the east and west perimeter walls were designed to create better circulation between the office tower and the Learning Centre, as well as to provide stunning second-story views of the Potomac River.

Functional program elements were added thanks to the re-appropriation of underutilized space including a multi-purpose room for up to 160 people where content for real-time exchanges with benefactors and volunteers are recorded and broadcasted, with an adjoining business centre and pantry. Both floors feature classrooms and training rooms, all wireless and hard-wired to facilitate distance learning. This project was completed in October 2010 and in addition to allowing UWW to upgrade their fundraising methods worldwide, the Mary M. Gates Learning Center achieved LEED Certification at the gold level.

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TPG Architecture

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Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP


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