Students at the University of New Haven, West Haven, Connecticut, can now enjoy access to a state-of-the-art, technology-enhanced academic building designed to foster the type of inspired collaboration that is an increasingly important component of workflow in high-tech and other market sectors. Designed by architecture firm Svigals + Partners, the Bergami Center for Science, Technology & Innovation serves as a central hub of interdisciplinary academic and social activity for students and faculty alike.
“Bergami Center was conceived as a place that would stimulate the kind of productive, collaborative interaction currently leading to breakthrough thinking in institutional, corporate, and scientific settings,” said Julia McFadden, AIA, ALEP, associate principal with Svigals + Partners.
The 4227-m2 (45,500-sf), three-story innovation hub is organized around an artful, airy central atrium where students, faculty, and administrators can congregate informally for conversations and breakout ideation sessions. The Svigals + Partners design team engaged with the University of New Haven faculty in visioning workshops to develop the programming, aiming specifically to cultivate three essential skills: working collaboratively, making prototypes through rapid interaction and development, and the ability to communicate ideas.
To that end, the Bergami Center features collaborative classrooms, huddle spaces, a teaching auditorium that functions as a cinema, a live broadcast studio, and a makerspace with a wood shop, 3D printers, and computer numerical control (CNC) cutters. The building complex is also equipped with an esports management teaching, training, and varsity-level competition venue, and a café.
Known for integrating artwork directly into architecture, Svigals + Partners incorporated thematic installations throughout the building, evoking the process by which ideas and hypotheses evolve from concepts to experiments to solutions.
“The university’s leaders understand their students need to be prepared for life after college,” sayid McFadden. “Bergami Center combines advanced technology with the collaborative modes that produce transformative thinking, offering students a place to acquire both the skills and the competitive edge they will need.”
According to the University of New Haven president Steven H. Kaplan, “At its core, the Bergami Center embodies our university-wide commitment to fostering innovation, cultivating creativity and ingenuity, and educating the next generation of problem-solvers. In creating this space, we have strengthened our commitment to preparing our students to excel in the careers of the future.”
Strategically sited at the university’s academic core, the Bergami Center is connected to Buckman Hall, home of the Tagliatela College of Engineering. The creation of the Bergami Center and a partial renovation of Buckman Hall significantly increases the available space on campus for STEAM curriculum and related studies. The fusion of these two buildings creates a critical mass of program area and collaborative spaces at the heart of the campus.
A Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold-certified building, Bergami Center was the centerpiece of the Charger Challenge, the University of New Haven’s first comprehensive campaign, which culminated with the University’s Centennial year in 2020.