To give students a place to congregate in between classes, Tidewater Community College recently added the 57,100-square-foot Student Center to its downtown Norfolk campus. The five-story building provides the 100% commuter-based student population with a hub for study and relaxation.
The first student center for a community college in Virginia, the facility is zoned for a variety of activities to enhance the experience of Tidewater’s students. Each floor includes spaces for food service, childcare, meetings, lounges, student organizations, fitness and recreation, and a ballroom.
A mixture of open and private spaces ensures students can optimize their interaction within the center.
Overcoming Space Limitations
The dense urban site created a number of constraints for the new facility, recounts Roland Lemke, project manager for Cannon Design. An established pedestrian thoroughfare had to be maintained, and the site’s width varied from 100 feet at one end to 200 feet at the other.
To ensure the building could fit appropriately, a curved glass facade was used. The design allows natural light to flood into the interior, provides a unique space for lounge areas, and encourages transparent views, Lemke says. Exterior metal shading devices reduce direct glare and heat load to the facility.
Brick and precast stone cladding and traditional fenestration complement neighboring buildings, and precast concrete is used for the exterior base. Metal panels on the roof’s mechanical enclosures minimize the height of the facility.
The center, which earned LEED Silver for New Construction, also includes a number of sustainable features. Special attention was paid to the existing plaza, such as reusing the original bricks and flow-through planters that contain native species to treat stormwater runoff.
Inside the center, indoor materials incorporate 35% recycled content and low-VOC furnishings were prioritized. A temperature and humidity control system ensures occupant comfort, and reduced water consumption is achieved with low-flow fixtures.
The Tidewater Student Center creates a benchmark for other community colleges with its emphasis on student engagement through building design.
“We’re proud that the center fits so well into the existing urban fabric and has really become a home for students,” says Lemke. “The building truly satisfies the use levels Tidewater was expecting.”