Afterglow is an intervention in a three-storey lobby space of the Student Experience Center (SEC), a new building on the campus of Oregon State University designed by the architectural firm Opsis. It consists of two primary parts: a central ceiling piece composed of an inverted ridge line figure surrounding an ovoid plane of mirrored tiles and a continuous surface that wraps the stair baluster and extends to the first and second level ceilings. It is composed of just under 2000 powder-coated strips of custom fabricated aluminum.
Our proposal for the SEC injects a vibrantly colored set of surfaces that produce an atmospheric effect based on Afterglows. Afterglows are the optical phenomena associated with the scattering of light particles during sunset that produces a range of warm rosy hues in the sky. This effect gets amplified by the occurrence of volcanic ash in the atmosphere, which deepens the color range with reddish hues. While the last major eruption of Mount Hood was over a century ago (1866), it has contributed to the atmospheric effects all across Oregon, and beyond, to this day. This can be experienced during the hour of twilight in certain climatic circumstances (clear to partially cloudy skies) and is one of the elements that makes Oregon’s atmosphere unique.
Afterglow adheres to and takes its cues from the architecture. We see the interior of the SEC as an eccentric counterpart to its exterior facades. While the exterior of the building is intended to be contextual within the larger campus setting and its neo-classical import, the interior lobby has baroque ambitions. This is where a formal sense of eccentricity comes into play: the plan geometry that defines the lobby is comprised of irregular and overlapping shapes based on a composition of elliptical arcs. There is no single center but several. The project fulfills these baroque ambitions by stitching the edges between the irregular ovoid center and the regular orthogonal perimeter. The main ceiling piece signals a frustration of the space not terminating in a dome or atrium and is composed of an inverted ridge-line figure surrounding an ovoid plane of mirrored tiles. The tiling pattern is based on the orthographic projection of the hexagonal subdivisions of two intersecting domes in order to give the effect of concavity.
The surfaces are developed into radiating strips of powder-coated aluminum and are developed according to performance criteria. The ceiling strips integrate lighting, hvac, & fire protection. A perforation pattern allows the ceiling to perform as a smoke draft plenum with denser areas allowing chill beams to blast through. A 3” gap near the inner edge of the triple height space acts as a water curtain. The vertical strips along the inner area mediate between floor diaphragm and guard rail, rendering them continuous through conic twisting.