The Trinity College Koeppel Community Sports Center enhances both the college and its urban surroundings in Harford, Connecticut. The site is an extension of the college's athletic precinct and the Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance's Learning Corridor along Broad Street. As a symbol of the partnership between Trinity and the community, the building provides a collegiate ice hockey rink for the varsity sports programs at the college and community recreation space for the city of Hartford. In its first winter season, neighborhood use reached 1,000 children per week, a number that has now doubled and is expected to grow in the coming years.
The building's urban condition and implantation on the site is a model for the college's approach to community outreach and the city's initiative to reinvigorate public life in an urban neighborhood in transition. The siting of the building and the building itself respond to several issues. The site provides pedestrian and vehicular access to both site and building from New Britain Avenue and Broad Street. The design negotiates the topography of the site dropping significantly from the New Britain Avenue side to the Broad Street end. The design mitigates the building volume and is scaled to fit with the fabric of the predominantly residential neighborhood block. The building restores the urban façade of New Britain Avenue while providing a major public address for Trinity's off-campus building. The building also provides space for the future addition of community-related programs as part of the potential long-term development of the facility.
Inside, the 55,000-square-foot building has an open layout. From the lobby, visitors are able to view the 90-foot by 200-foot ice sheet, seating for 1,150 spectators, the community lounge, snack bar, public lockers, and skate changing area. The upper level, which overlooks the east side of the rink and provides views to the neighborhood, features another lounge and four community rooms for meetings, functions, fitness, and gatherings. The different uses of the building are subdivided in zones defined by partial boundaries allowing a sense of visual continuity between spaces. This strategy for the organization of the interior spaces reinforces the notion of multiple destination areas within a larger loft-like space.
The rink combines a pre-engineered structure with a custom designed frame, giving the building a unique profile. The segment of the building facing New Britain Avenue contains the main entrance, lobby, lounge, and a future climbing-wall area. Taking advantage of its northern orientation, a large window wall achieves the effect of an outdoor skating experience while minimizing glare.
The texture of the corrugated building skin echoes the clapboard siding of the neighboring residential buildings. Wood paneling frames at each entrance add contrasting warmth to the metal and signal points of entry. Projecting window boxes occur at strategic locations on each major elevation, framing views, bringing light into stairways and lounges, and amplifying the quality of movement within the building.