Project DescriptionThe Oechsle Center establishes Global Education as a symbol of academic innovation and curricular relevance, and its architecture and interiors support this institutional goal. It is envisioned as a 24-hour campus hub that fosters interdisciplinary interactions and learning while containing flexible, timeless academic spaces that can be easily altered to fit varied and evolving pedagogies. International Affairs, Anthropology, Sociology and Africana Studies are brought together to support deeper understanding if an increasingly interconnected world. Transparency and strategic location of programmatic elements echo a world view that is open, academically rigorous and cosmopolitan.
The college had a clearly articulated and visionary goal for the Oechsle Center as an intellectual crossroads of the campus. In gathering together different faculties and their students, the building organization encourages cross‐pollination of ideas across the different programs. To stimulate this camaraderie, all of the major teaching spaces and department offices are visible and accessed from the 3- story Atrium. Faculty office are located a few steps from the classrooms to promote student faculty interaction.
An active learning classroom called the Global Studio is prominently located adjacent to the Lobby. Here students can quickly move from group work around shared monitors, to an instructor led presentation, to a group discussion or open the movable wall to become part of the floor’s wider network of collaborative spaces. Far from being conceived of as an afterthought, the buildings “social spaces” and circulation routes are given equal weight as the more formal academic spaces. It acknowledges that much of learning is serendipitous, that meaningful connections grow out of impromptu student-faculty or peer-to-peer interaction. All teaching spaces have adjacent break-out space so learning can literally spill into the hallways. These spaces range from a quiet spot on a bench to larger, multi-story lounges. Engagement, inspiration, and innovation can be found in students working in groups, and faculty and students meeting spontaneously in the varied spaces in the building.
Also in this spirit, the ‘Global Salon” is a 24/7 space, neither fully academic nor fully social but a vital amalgamation of both that recalls ages-old concept of the salon -- a gathering of intellectually minded people in a semipublic venue. The salon can accommodate group work, informal lectures, quiet study, and receptions or offer a quiet corner to read an international newspaper and meet up with a faculty member.
Sustainability goals were a key driver in the decision making process from massing to materiality. The building is elongated along the West/East axis, with the majority of the fenestration on North/South façades to maximize solar gain. Demand control ventilation, enhanced lighting controls and LED lighting contribute to the reduction in energy usage. The exterior cladding is a regionally quarried granite that ties the building to the campus and regional masonry traditions and installed as rubble to minimize fabrication and waste.
The interior spaces are visually connected by various uses of salvaged wood, including millwork made from a felled campus tree, and feature walls assembled from reclaimed sources as diverse as Indonesian shipping pallets, French winery casks, and Australian wool mill floors. These “Global Wood” walls use woods from each continent in proportion to their population, thus celebrating the building’s global aspirations.