SCSU gets a new sustainable, collaborative college building

A new faculty building on the Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) campus in Hamden achieves a sustainable design focused on smarter energy consumption, water use, and construction strategies.

The project team worked to slash energy consumption by more than 33 percent, and water use by 30 percent. About 75 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills, and 20 percent of the building materials comprise recycled content. These and other measures contribute to exceeding the state’s High Performance Building requirements, equivalent to a minimum of a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification.

Designed by the architecture, art, and advisory firm Svigals + Partners, along with another firm, Little Diversified Architectural Consulting, the new four-story, 8803-m2 (94,750-sf) building consolidates the multiple departments of the College of Health and Human Services program—from eight campuswide locations encompassing nearly two-dozen disciplines—uniting their academic centers, clinics, and institutes into one inviting, interdisciplinary experience.

Students and staff enjoy optimal campus connectivity through the Health and Human Services building’s embrace of the university’s signature pedestrian walkway, “Academic Way,” as well as its new landscaped courtyard, and a walking path to the school’s Pelz Gymnasium.

“A main goal of the new Health and Human Services building is establishing a welcoming and open state-of-the-art center that serves as the heart of the college’s program and distinguishes its public clinic services,” says Robert Skolozdra, AIA, partner, and principal in charge of the project. “We achieved this by orienting the building’s main campus entry on one side of the building and its public, clinical services entry on another. Both entrance areas are open and transparent, wrapped in glass to emphasize the activity and movement inside. To build on that sense of connection and community, we also incorporated interior corridors that open to views of the building’s planted courtyard and link the two entrances together.”

Along with the building’s glass exterior—including a glass section along the center’s perimeter that invites connection between occupants and passersby—the new building also incorporates a recognizable brick and metal panel cladding embracing the campus context and its architectural idiom. From inside the new building, occupants enjoy extensive outdoor views and copious natural daylighting.

The interior sequences of private, semi-private, and flexible spaces amplify the center’s multi-departmental and collaborative nature. The architects worked with university leadership to create designated clusters joined by a common hub, bringing together students for casual connections as they move from one area to another. More glass walls open views into classrooms, laboratories, and simulation rooms, highlighting the activity and interdepartmental innovation.

A sculptural metal installation graces the main facade. Conceived by Svigals + Partners’ integrated team of artists and architects, the ornamental element presents concentric circles, an echo of two campus touchstones: Founder’s Gate, and a symbol of academic and athletic excellence known as Otus the Owl, creating an artistic homage to the university’s nearly 130-year-history. The shape recurs in a horizontal band between the first and second floors above.

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