New Case Western Facility Connects Campuses, Students

CLEVELAND — Case Western Reserve University introduced its new 89,000-square-foot, sustainably designed university center in style. The school’s Tinkham Veale University Center was unveiled to the tunes of pop band Ok Go, in a celebration befitting the center’s character as a student life hub.

Designed by the Chicago and Atlanta offices of global architecture and design firm Perkins+Will, the two-story, $50 million facility is a haven for Case Western students. Combining public spaces, quiet study areas, 160 student organization offices and a variety of other dynamic spaces, the modern facility hopes to foster greater interaction and collaboration between all users.

The building was constructed at the apex of the original Western Reserve University and Case Institute of Technology campuses. A pass-through walkway extends throughout the building, connecting the two sites and exuding openness, transparency and interactivity.

“We were able to create a highly transparent building with public and private spaces that promote interaction among students, faculty and staff throughout their daily campus experience,” said Mark Jolicoeur, Perkins+Will managing principal on the project, in a statement.

The building, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, was intended to serve as a base for both informal and formal gatherings for undergraduates, graduates, faculty, staff and community members. As such, the Perkins+Will project team divided the space between social and cultural areas, meeting and event spaces, and food and beverage areas with intersecting, public spaces to encourage socializing, collaborating, studying and relaxing, according to a release issued by the firm.

“In fact,” said Stephen Campbell, Case Western Reserve’s vice president for campus planning and facilities management, in a release, “we sought input from students in the planning and design. We expect them to make the center their own.”

As the facility was built in a spatially confined area, surrounded by a number of other campus buildings, Perkins+Will accommodated this potentially difficult site by stretching horizontally in three directions.

“We turned a challenging space into an asset,” said Ralph Johnson, global design direction and design principal for Perkins+Will. “The design respects the context and the constraints of the site it is on and, with the pass-through walkway, provides a major circulation path that energizes the interior of the building. We celebrated and defined these open spaces.”

Meanwhile, the new green-roofed center, which is designed to meet or exceed LEED silver standards, is also a model of environmental stewardship through its design, construction, and operation. The two-story, west-facing double-glass wall required an innovative engineering system to address solar heat-gain generated by late afternoon sunlight.

To reduce energy use and better control the interior environment, the team integrated fans that pull air to cool the space between the glass walls at high temperatures, while rooftop sensors trigger roller shades to be lowered when the sun is creating glare in the commons. During cold winter months, the glass walls allow warmer air to build up.

With the glass wall situated above a section of the parking garage containing an air shaft, the design team also had to calculate how to maintain proper air circulation into, and out of, the garage.

Donley’s of Cleveland served as the project’s construction manager, and local architecture CBLH Design provided support throughout the project.