John F. Welch College of Business & Department of Communications
Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT
Housing both of the John F. Welch College of Business (COB) and the Department of Communications and Media Studies programs, this building will be a dynamic, iconic gateway building that signals the entrance to the university campus for students, alumni, visitors, and the Fairfield community. Together, the building and landscape achieve a synergy of design and purpose that promotes Sacred Heart University's progressive and comprehensive approach to business management, career success, and global competition as well as preparation for the dynamic and creative communications and media studies professionals of the future. The building is also the starting point of a sequence of buildings and a network of open spaces that includes the Great Green, the chapel, and the Linda E. McMahon Commons—each also designed by Sasaki and tied together by pedestrian paths leading diagonally through campus.
Sasaki's design balances the traditional with the contemporary, creating a professional and collaborative environment realized through the various learning spaces and the building's connection to the main campus. The structure provides classrooms that support various pedagogical platforms of teaming, individual studies, and distant learning. The building also houses The Executive Leadership Institute, which gathers national and international speakers to address the contemporary issues confronting business and education. Technology is the backbone of the building, supporting learning at all levels. A food service and a dining area foster discussions and collegial interactions. The building also houses support offices for both schools as well as the new deans' offices. A below-grade parking structure accommodates 75 cars.
The atrium space serves as a common open space and the nexus of student life. Within the atrium, a cafe and loose furniture encourage a friendly, collaborative atmosphere. A grand staircase anchoring the north end of the atrium serves also as additional seating. Areas for group study as well as circulation space surround the atrium, spanning two levels, serve to further activate and connect the space
The atrium also ties together the main entry court and the lower entry court. The main entry court includes reflective water feature integrated with sculptural art. Seat walls in the landscape, shaded by trees, offer informal areas for gathering. The lower entry court provides a pedestrian connection to the campus to the south, and creates an iconic view of the archway for those approaching from campus. The lower entry court, the courtyard, and the main entry court at Park Avenue are all tied together by a series of sculptural trees.
Sasaki's proposed streetscape improvements along Park Avenue consist of a sidewalk flanked by rows of street trees that echo the building geometry. A stone wall is envisioned as a continuous element that ties the Sacred Heart streetscape to the golf course and larger context beyond.