Facility Focus (Student Centers)

Tidewater Community College: Portsmouth Student Center

Tidewater Community College

PHOTOS © PATRICK ROSS

On Tidewater Community College’s (TCC) Portsmouth, VA, campus, a new student center offers a diverse array of venues within a vibrant, open space. Designed by Stantec Architecture, the three-story, 57,500-squarefoot-building opened in January 2014, delivering on TCC’s mission to provide a student center on each of its four campuses.

“The design reflects extensive stakeholder input,” explains Stantec Principal John Knickmeyer. “The students were very clear about how this building could best meet their needs. In addition to gathering and study spaces and food venues, recreation and fitness topped their wish lists.” Now they can relax between classes in gaming, movie theater and lounge areas, or let off steam at the fitness center or on the regulation-size basketball court. The center also features a versatile event space that can be subdivided by vertically folding partitions, a bookstore, and a childcare facility with a separate, secured entrance.

Jasmin McDuffie, Stantec’s project manager, explains that the dominant open atrium and curved central staircase were designed to foster a sense of openness and community. The plan also promotes visibility and enhances the security in the building. To add interest and energy, a soothing water wall tower centers the ground floor living room atrium, highlighted by custom hanging light fixtures and circular skylights.

As the designer of the campuses’ four other buildings, Stantec incorporated the existing exterior material palette, while adopting a more fluid and playful approach to the building massing and window compositions to reflect the center’s unique role on campus. The front entrance is highlighted with a dramatic massing/material interplay between brick and metal panels grounded by a black ironspot brick base. The south-facing back side features an extensive S-curved glass wall accentuated with a metal panel frame and screening devices that manages the natural daylighting throughout the interior.

This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of College Planning & Management.

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