The Miami Dade College Academic Support Center seamlessly unites both learning and administrative functions into a cohesive whole and centralises all Student Services departments of the Campus. The project is the flagship test-fit for the Prototypical Learning Environments Basis of Design, a living roadmap for pedagogical innovation and growth, developed for the college by Perkins+Will.
To frame the entry corridor and allow for optimum solar control and access, the building is oriented with its long axis running east-west. The parti is formed from two program bars that slip past and overlap the other to form a third social space. The north bar which encapsulates 20 prototypical 900 sq ft classrooms and a Resource and Testing Center that hovers like a monitor that views learning activity within and the south bar stacks administrative and faculty offices. An extruded architectural frame binds these together and doubles as shading overhangs for ground and roof terrace levels. Eroding the frame is a floating black-box multi-purpose space and the college’s New Student Center for orientation and recruitment that lives within a glass volume.
The north and south program bars are woven together by a three-dimensional 'main street' that orchestrates all vertical and horizontal building circulation and places it on display to enhance way-finding and interaction. The space enriches the existing student life on campus by containing all lounging, study, and campus information programs within the atrium space. Architecturally, this transparent volume rises above its adjacent programs to scoop in Miami’s copious sunlight and bring it to the lowest levels of the building. Panels within its east and west facades - controlled by the building automation system - open at optimum ambient outdoor conditions to allow for natural ventilation.
The project is itself is a learning tool helping the college achieve its 10 Learning Outcomes. To that end, the project includes two outdoor learning spaces. One of these spaces surrounds a ‘rain clock’ which is a dry retention structure that adjusts seasonally to spatially register storm-water amounts. An open grid paving system conceals a shallow rain water cistern beautifully illustrating roof rain-water harvesting. The building will re-utilise coquina limestone excavated for foundations into low retaining walls that loosely define planted zones and pedestrian ramps and steps.