Earth Slice

Client: Vassar College (Competition)
Project duration: April 2014 – September 2014
Project type: Higher Education, New Construction
Project size: ~100,000 SQFT

Basic program requirements: Classrooms; seminar rooms; lecture hall; offices; student lounge and study spaces; student gallery; cafe; thesis library; shared kitchen Tasks: Program research; site research; historic research; schematic/concept design; client meetings and presentations; rendering and presentation graphics
Programs: Revit Architecture, Photoshop

MCF Architects
307 Fourth Ave
200 The Bank Tower
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Phone: 412-281-6568

I was assigned to this competition in late April and tasked with designing a contemporary scheme for a new building on Vassar’s campus. The new building was to house the university’s Multidisciplinary Studies Program. When designing the building I drew inspiration from the eclectic nature of the campus, which in many senses was a showcase for architecture over a period of over 150 years. I also drew inspiration from the architecture firm Snohetta, in particular how their buildings connect to the ground plane. The movement and ascent of the building masses is what gave this building the nickname “Earth Slice.”

The site the Earth Slice is situated on was chosen due to its proximity to the campus core – one of the key desires the client expressed both in their whitepaper and in various meetings. When designing the building the pedestrian paths were taken into account and the building was situated in such a way that students could pass through it from the field to the central campus and back again. The building for this reason has two primary entrances.

The Earth Slice rises from the ground and ascends to equal the height of the buildings surrounding it. In this sense the building conceptually connects the low lying field to the built environment. The various green roofs that accent the planes completes this connection. A double skin facade with an expanded metal mesh shading system provides both ample glass for day lighting and views while still blocking solar glare and preventing excess heat gain. The double skin system also serves as a means to average out temperature differentials on the different building faces and was intended to be similar to the PNC Tower in downtown Pittsburgh.