The Design of Stokes Hall was derived from the look and feel of its Collegiate Gothic surroundings. At 183,000 square feet, it is the largest academic building to be constructed on campus since Gasson Hall. The building site is situated along the southwest corner of the Middle Campus in an area fondly known as the “Dustbowl” because of its long history as the site of the former football field. It is now a well-worn, dusty path of student travel that links the lower, middle and upper campus plateaus. A master plan that considered a number of campus-wide design issues as well as the long-range capacity of the site was first advanced by Tsoi/Kobus & Associates and presented to the University. The design principles gleaned from this study were later integrated into the project. Our team explored issues of massing and scale, campus axes, interrelation of open spaces, student circulation, sustainability and methods of construction, in addition to program and building style.
As a result of this exploration, Stokes Hall was built to appear as two, separate buildings. If built as a single free-standing structure, the large mass would have dominated all other forms on campus, disrupting the graceful Middle Campus hierarchy. Each wing, (North and South), is of a size and shape similar to the family of buildings around it. In keeping with its context, the wings were placed at ninety degrees to each other to form an “L” shape, and linked by a second floor “bridge” connector.
This also formed a new assemblage of well-defined open spaces, each with their own differing character. The treatment of building mass and fenestration responds to the spaces they overlook. An internal campus quadrangle is shaped to the east. Here, the defining walls of the South and North Wings are of a more formal and ornate design, reflecting the importance of the site. To the west, along College Road, an outdoor terraced natural amphitheater is created and the building forms are of a smaller scale to reflect the dimensions of the adjacent residential neighborhood. A central Link Garden is situated between the two wings and serves as a setting for celebrations and impromptu gatherings. The second- floor connecting bridge between the two wings hovers above the Link Garden, and a ground-level arcade below the bridge also acts as gateway into the quiet, smaller court.