Project Profiles: Educational Facilities

Armstrong Atlantic State University with aluminum bar grating from McNICHOLS Co.Armstrong Atlantic State University with aluminum bar grating from McNICHOLS Co.

Armstrong Atlantic State University, Learning Commons, Savannah, Ga.

Armstrong Atlantic State University with aluminum bar grating from McNICHOLS Co.

Armstrong Atlantic State University with aluminum bar grating from McNICHOLS Co.

Retrofit Team

ARCHITECT: Cogdell & Mendrala, Savannah
CONTRACTOR: Garbutt Construction Co., Dublin, Ga.

Materials

Two adjacent 1-story buildings constructed on campus during different decades were retrofitted to become the new AA SU Learning Commons. Cogdell & Mendrala had to bridge the decades while incorporating aesthetically pleasing features appropriate to the facility’s new purpose. Because the Learning Common’s south entry faces the plaza, it would be heavily used and have a significant visual impact along the pedestrian path, a high-traffic area for the university’s 7,500 students, its faculty and visitors. Additionally, this entry’s southern exposure and tall curtainwall of glazed glass required a sunscreen to reduce the solar impact. The sunscreen material had to match the natural anodized finish of the curtainwall and roof fascia.

Approximately 4 by 10 feet in size, clear anodized bar grating was installed above the entry doors. The material has 77 percent open area and is secured on a metal frame that is attached to the roof by stainless-steel rods.

On the opposite side of the building, a mechanical courtyard was in direct view of the President’s Dining Room, located on the second floor of the Student Union. Anodized bar grating varying from light to dark bronze to natural was arranged creatively with function and aesthetics in mind. The material’s open area allows air circulation for the mechanical equipment while the colors and placement of the panels provide a sculpture-like appearance when viewed from above.

Aluminum bar grating manufacturer: McNICHOLS Co.

The Retrofit

One of the retrofitted buildings, constructed in 1982, previously housed a campus bookstore; the other, the Memorial Center built in 1965, was occupied by the university’s IT services. At 14,500-square-feet, the vacated buildings would produce enough reusable space to accomplish the planners’ goals for the new Learning Commons, which is a virtual library with technology-rich learning venues for interactive group or individual study.

The Learning Commons includes rooftop solar panels and a vegetated roof and has earned LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, Washington, D.C. The reuse project also received a 2013 Innovation Award for Design and Technology from the University System of Georgia.

PHOTO: Richard Leo Johnson

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