Friday 27 May 2011


Award banner

Illuminated campus beacon.

Objective The State University of New York at New Paltz needed to expand its 1970 Student Union building by providing informal gathering spaces for students. In addition, the University wished to change the overall experience of the existing building which conveyed an uninspired functional appearance at the gateway to the university. Solution Inspired by the regional landscape of the Catskill Mountains in New York State, the form and shape of the Commons is abstracted from the Shawangunk ridge, a local internationally known rock climbing palisade that can be seen from the site and is a unique landmark to the University’s location.

The solution in-filled and spanned over an existing underutilized exterior courtyard with a structural tube stress skin system that created the angular forms of the pavilion that metaphorically references the Shawangunk ridge. Square structural tubes shop fabricated in large planar sections were erected on site like a giant origami assembly. Ceramic fritted glass was placed on top of the stress skin to create the enclosure.

The pattern of the ceramic frit is an abstracted digitized version of the tectonic plates of the Shawangunks. Interior lighting indirectly illuminates the structural stress skin framing to allow the dynamic form to be perceived in the evening. Exterior uplighting on the glazed fritted surfaces permits the Commons to illuminate like a beacon welcoming students and visitors to the campus. The Campus Commons houses a large space for informal gathering, multi-purpose meeting rooms, food court, student ID offices, bookstore, entertainment center and meeting rooms.

The Commons incorporates sustainable features such as day light harvesting and views, radiant heating and cooling, recyclable materials, photo optic lighting controls, and high output low energy consuming LED light fixtures.

ikon.5 architects

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