Project DescriptionThe project was designed for both the university and its associated research hospital to accommodate—and consolidate—functions previously located elsewhere on campus, including 10,000 square feet of offices for the Parking and Transportation Offices and a bus interchange for the campus-wide transit system.
Two guiding parameters informed the organization and form of the building. The first is a gambit proposed by the architect to challenge the assumed placement of the programmatic functions on the site. The second is navigating the—literal and figural—web of underground utilities occupying the site and potential connection paths to the University's hospital.
The building was originally envisioned as two separate structures located on a sliver of site immediately north of the football stadium. Alternatively the architect proposed stacking the office program over the bus interchange program. This maneuver accomplished several important requirements. First, it allowed less building to be built since the offices could function as the canopy/roof of the bus interchange. It also allowed the available budget to be utilized for fewer materials and raised the overall quality of the project. Due to the constraints of the underground site utilities, it also allowed the office component to be realized in a configuration appropriate for optimum building performance.
In addition to the utility constrictions under the transportation hub, the project brief requested an enclosed walkway system to connect to two hospital parking structures and ultimately to the main entrance of the hospital itself. Due to the underground utility network, it was possible to punch only six caissons along the 750-foot route. This led to a glazed structure with paired roof beams that span between these six locations. Several of the spans are 100 feet in length. The 'skywalk' floor is hung from the roof beams by stainless steel rods. This structural system allowed the elimination of a framing system for the glass walls which are held to the structure by clamp plates located at the glazing joints.
The skywalk, transit hub, and connecting elevator are fully enclosed in glass fostering a safe, see-and-be-seen environment while providing a pleasant, welcoming patron experience. A grand stair and paired escalators provide direct connection from the parking/interchange level to the skywalk level. The remaining programmatic elements are clad in a combination of glass curtain wall with exterior operable venetian blinds and opaque rainscreen wall systems. The grade-level service program is clad in a rainscreen of stained ipe. The ipe is a contextual response to the surrounding brown brick buildings, and is also highly durable with a significant lifespan.
The raised office 'bar' is clad in a rainscreen of fiber cement panels. This wrapper stretches beyond the bar to grab the skywalk which enters the building at a sharp angle from the hospital parking ramp. The fiber cement system was chosen for its durability, economy of fabrication and installation, and the fluctuating color tones which help break down the scale of the overhanging soffit area.