Slippery Rock’s new 107,000 square foot student center serves as a connector between the campus’s largest residential precinct and academic and student services areas. The building, also designed by Sasaki, is tightly integrated into the site. A bridge connects the building’s top terrace with a pedestrian path along the hillside, uniting the building, its terraces, and public activities. The project also creates a major campus pedestrian spine from east to west that doubles as an outdoor promenade and as the building’s main multi-level pedestrian concourse. Along the corridor, recreational gardens and terraces serve as storm water management devices that collect and reuse water through bio-swales, roof gardens, fountains and infiltrating gardens.
The building’s materiality introduces a contrast to the campus’ established palette of materials. Terraces and retaining walls clad in light brick define the building’s base and relate to the adjacent student housing, while the top and accent areas feature large brown copper panels and glazed curtain walls. Laminated wooden panels provide shading and complement the large glazed facades. The extensive green roof is planted with a mix of sedums, providing foreground beauty to views form the student org spaces and from exterior terraces, as well as providing the benefit of increased insulation and a reduced heat island.
The design provides access from various campus networks. The main entry, positioned at a level segment of the main loop road, creates a prominent accessible transit drop off and a strong visual link to campus. Parking is multifunctional serving: drop in patrons, seasonal book sales, or campus celebrations. The main path from housing to the academic core was carefully graded to be accessible and easy for bicyclist travel while bike racks coincide with the building entries. Avoiding frequent service vehicle trips through the main campus, an existing hillside road was upgraded providing easy access for deliveries isolating service from pedestrians.
The site design includes the restoration of a prominent campus hillside disturbed by the prior installation of a campus service road. To this end, over 250’ of local stone was installed in a gabion retaining wall reintegrating prior, severe excavations and integrating materially with the building palette. Additionally over 350 trees were planted, both to re-forest the hillside and to define exterior terraces directly associated with building program spaces.