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On the turn

James
Tuesday 13 Mar 2012

Four rotated volumes define city centre building for University of North Carolina

Located in downtown Charlotte, the Center City Building is the first purpose-built urban campus for the University of North Carolina. It is crafted as an icon for the University as a major new destination in the city, catering to students living and working downtown as well as the general public. Its rotated massing distinguishes it from other downtown high rises, establishing a distinct identity as an academic building.

The lowest three floors are transparent for a welcoming street presence, and contain areas for public gatherings and amenities including a landscaped plaza, bookstore, gallery, and cafe. The double-height atrium, auditorium and lecture hall on the upper floors share the scale of the adjacent plaza, future park and surrounding neighbourhood.

The upper floors are divided into three blocks to define an intimate scale for learning within an urban mid-rise. Each three-storey block combines offices and classrooms connected with a multi-storey atrium for an efficient mix of spaces that enhance community and cross-disciplinary interaction while serving broader sustainability and fiscal goals. The building is sited to for the most favourable solar orientation, clad on three principal faces with an aluminum and glass curtain wall deployed with a pattern of transparent, fritted, and opaque panels that screen solar radiation while maximising natural light and views.

Opacity is densest at the southwest corner where summer heat gain is most intense, and gradates to maximum transparency at the common spaces in the southeast and northwest corners. Additional shading is provided to floors below where the rotated masses are canted. The curtain wall mullions follow a rigorous uniform spacing, which accentuates the intersection between the rotated masses.

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