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section at entry 1 lobby 2 studios 3 multi-media critique space 4 mezzanine/ Critique Space

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than just green in color—the copper cladding is composed of more than 90 percent recycled material and the designers have included a variety of openings to bring daylight to a surprisingly gray region. (“Fewer sunny days than Seattle,” noted Shemwell.) The vaguely Corbusian rhythm of openings and shades in a sculptural surface is a fairly matter-of-fact indication of interior space and structure, yet the result is much more spirited and willful than the sedate east facade. In fact, the two sides of the building could almost be from different decades. But despite arguments for architectural coherence, coexistence of divergent approaches seems appropriate for a building that newly unites two disciplines. As responsive as it is to its site, the building is to a large degree designed from the inside out. The architects explored numerous schemes early on and also completed a later self-imposed redesign. Still, they adhered to a simple but ingenious sectional diagram developed at the beginning of the process during a four-day charrette that solicited ideas from professional designers, faculty, staff, and students. It creates double-height studios at the building perimeter on the second and fourth floors of the studio wing. “The design of the building is really about sectional connections,” Shemwell said. “There are places where you can stand and get a feeling of all of the floors simultaneously.” The third floor, devoted to critique spaces, is really a small mezzanine at the center of the building. The building that began with sustainable design ideals incorporates them with instructional intentions. All of the studios have raised floor plenums to make

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the ease and efficiency of adaptable air and electrical distribution apparent. “All of the windows are operable and controlled by a weather station on the roof,” Shemwell said. And the HVAC system will circulate either fresh or conditioned air, depending on the need at any given moment. Less visually apparent are features such as locally sourced brick and the recycling of 79 percent of construction waste. But the fabric of this building and its landscape both demonstrate a commitment to sustainable principles from the large scale of conception through the small details of use. “Overland deserves credit for helping educate the university” on issues of sustainability, said department head Willis. Tellingly, Penn State now pursues LEED ratings on all of its capital projects. In addition to achieving sustainable design ideals, the new building exhibits numerous artistic and functional successes that bear out the faculty’s vision of an interdisciplinary pedagogy. It is also, by the way, one of the least expensive buildings per square foot on campus. “I think one of the most exciting things about the building is to be in the studios on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday,” said Brian Orland, head of the landscape architecture department. Amid the hum of activity and within the instructive armature of building and site, the long-anticipated unity of architecture and landscape architecture is at its clearest. This article was adapted from a review by architectural historian and critic Charles Rosenblum that was originally published in the July/August 2006 TA. Rosenblum teaches in the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, Penn.

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Texas Architect Sept/Oct 2007: Design Awards  

Texas Architect is the official publication of the Texas Society of Architects, each edition features recently completed projects and other...

Texas Architect Sept/Oct 2007: Design Awards  

Texas Architect is the official publication of the Texas Society of Architects, each edition features recently completed projects and other...