The addition to the Commerce and Technology Center is comprised of classrooms, labs, student collaborative areas, faculty offices, and administrative spaces that aim to foster interdisciplinary collaboration across technological and business platforms. The programmatic activities range from robotics and immersive environment research labs to business centric public institutes, providing an opportunity to cross-pollinate ideas between students, faculty, researchers, and the public. The addition is attached to the south of the existing 90,000 sf ‘L’ shaped building, creating a semi-enclosed landscaped courtyard between the existing building and the addition. A new exterior grand stair connects the main lobby in the existing building down one floor to the main public lobby of the addition where the public institutes are located.
The design foregrounds the creation of an interior environment that fosters collaboration amongst students and faculty at the nexus of business, technology and education. Social connectivity coalesces around the central atrium space that connects the multivalent programs, providing clear visual connections between people on various levels of the building while highlighting their activities. Social conditions are intensified by positioning student lounges overlooking the vertical atrium as well as locating movement systems through the space, making physical and visual connections between multiple floors. The wide stairs in the atrium are activated as informal gathering places, adding to the social dynamics.
The architectural response to the goal of establishing social connectivity occurs through expressing the opposition between the solidity of the architectural entity and the deliberate apertures that exposes the activities embedded within. The program of the building is located in two large masses with an atrium space in the void between. The large openings subdivide the solid masses into thinner surfaces on which circulation or lounges occur, transforming the heavy masses into a porous aggregation of spaces where people socialize, relax or study. From within the apertures of the masses, visually minimal bridges with glass guardrails that maximize views to multiple floors cross the atrium intensifying the dynamic movement of people in and around the central connective space.