Finishing One Living Learning Community Leads to a New & Different One
IUP Residential Revival Phase II – Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Designed & Managed by ROCKiT Founder Brian DiPietro while at WTW Architects
When IUP continued its mission to integrate the living learning community into its Residential Revival, they decided to expand the community aspect of the project beyond the buildings themselves, and into the surrounding areas on campus. By giving them a new look.
Building on the success of the first phase at IUP, the design team followed up with Phase II; a more ambitious project with farther reaching implications for the campus. It ultimately resulted in the largest on-campus student housing replacement project in the United States. The second phase includes three new residence halls on two sites. The first two buildings complete the quad (block) of the first phase, with the third building situated on a new site on the other end of campus.
When the developer and University asked WTW why they should be paid the same design fee if the buildings were to look the same, Brian saw an opportunity and rose to the challenge. He proposed that unlike their predecessors in the Pennsylvania state system, IUP had the chance to build something different; to realize the living learning communities for their full potential. He suggested that rather than have all of the residence halls on campus look the same, that each quad should have its own distinct look, giving the students that live there a sense of ownership and pride in their community.
From the Owner:
“The project has visually and functionally enhanced our campus character and the IUP community particularly enjoys the warm and inviting architecture that has been created. The indoor and outdoor common area amenities elegantly link the campus horizontally and vertically and are much appreciated by students, faculty, staff, and visitors. ”
– W.Thomas Borellis, Director, Office of Student Housing Development, Indiana University of PA.
The Story Behind the Design:
While the first two buildings completed the south quad and fulfill Phase I’s goals, an entirely new looking building style developed in the north, and set the stage for a campus full of unique looking residence halls, each catering to the individual living learning communities living within.
A major design element of the Phase I project is the rusticated (rough) stone base, a reminder of the site’s past where sixteen-foot high retaining walls were demolished to make way for Phase II. The original walls were a large, ominous barrier in the middle of the campus. But by using the significant grade change, major living learning components have new homes behind the new walls, with dozens of large storefront windows along the street, turning this once imposing streetscape into a main campus thoroughfare. One building is home to the campus’ Office of Housing and Residence Life, with the other home to the 24,000SF campus Health & Wellness Center. And by removing the walls, it allows for a break in that longstanding campus barrier.
The two new buildings also help expand the new campus circulation spine, allowing for a series of gentle stairs and ramps to replace the sixteen-foot high retaining wall, now an ADA accessible access path at mid-block. Attention to detail allow this area to be more than just a technically proficient student route; it’s now a comfortable tree lined area where students now like to sit and study between classes.
To the north, a new style is developed for the new living learning community. This helps give the new residence hall its own identity, and helps the campus avoid looking too uniform, monolithic, and boring. Cues are taken from the neighboring historic Alumni Center, using a pinker brick with a dark purple accent, different brick patterns, and an arts & crafts style look. Long gone is the lap siding used on the other buildings, replaced with a white board and batten, Tudor style look at the top floor, with heavy truncated outriggers completing the look. The approach to the floor plan is also different to help change the look and massing of the building.
But the floor plans are changed more to incorporate nature and the surrounding landscape, than for looks. The building’s overall shape was delicately laid out to create a courtyard surrounding the county’s only remaining American Elm tree. An area not just big enough to save the tree during construction, but oversized to ensure that the tree would not be affected by the building and should survive for generations to come. Continuing to work with nature, the building is also sited to accommodate the campus’ Touch & Smell Garden, to engage students and visitors in better understand and appreciate nature.