Olson Kundig designs trio of additional volumes for rural Washington school focusing on first generation college students
Heritage University in rural Toppenish, Washington provides higher education to an underserved population of mostly first generation college students. Impassioned by the School’s mission, Tom Kundig and Kirsten Murray of Olson Kundig Architects took on the challenge of designing three buildings for the University that would inspire its students and allow them to reach their full potential.
Each new building is set on the campus quad, activating the public green space and encouraging interaction between students and nature. Their low-slung presence sensitively densifies the Heritage campus which is rural and has a quietness about it. In addition to the three new buildings, Olson Kundig has developed a master plan for the future growth of the 48-acre campus, with strategies that seek to maintain and reference the original structures on the Yakima Valley site, incorporate the landscape and engage the community.
The main new building will replace Petri Hall and contain classrooms, computer labs and an art studio. The building located in the centre of the campus will include a cafeteria, dining room and bookstore. The third building, located on the southwest quadrant of the campus, will be dedicated to information technology. All buildings will have brick facades and metal roofs, a palette of materials that Kundig says 'will be easy to expand upon as the University grows'.
Good design is about creating a support, a foundation to the really important things that happen on the campus - the buildings are intentionally simple and really more of a background. "We are thrilled to be working with Heritage University to help solve critical space needs and to create a meaningful place for learning," said Kundig. “The opportunity to work in this amazing landscape on a project with such a critical mission is incredibly exciting.”