When The Wheeler School needed to add a student center to their campus in Providence, RI, the school turned to Ann Beha Architects. Flocked by historic buildings, the new green-roofed student center and campus gateway has a decidedly modern aesthetic with a glass curtain wall and exposed concrete walls, but it works. Transparent, welcoming, eco friendly and contemporary, the Wheeler School Nulman Lewis Student Center has become the heart of the campus and expounds upon the schools aim to incorporate sustainability into their curriculum.
The 10,000 sq ft addition to the campus provides direct connections to both the Alumni House and the Student Union. Every day, the 1,000 students, teachers, staff and parents enter the student center to access the café, lockers, classrooms, and an information center. The contemporary building set in a historic context has modernized the school and given it forward momentum. Clad in horizontal glass and zinc panel curtain wall system, the interior is flooded with natural daylight and also allows those on the inside to what is going on in the quad outside. A rough, less “finished” design inside lets students see how the building was put together and many open seating areas provide places to gather.
As the school incorporates more sustainability into their curriculum, the new student center serves as an example of green design in action. Besides the sensor controlled daylighting system, solitube skylights draw light down into the third floor classrooms, and deep horizontal window mullion profiles for shading direct sunlight. The entire roof is carpeted in sedum plants, absorbing rainwater and improving the insulation. Additionally, many of the materials contain recycled content – classroom counter tops are 100% post-consumer cardboard; acoustical ceiling tiles contain approximately 70% recycled material; and all new carpet is 25% recycled content on a 100% sustainable backing system. The project was completed in 2009 and was built according to LEED standards.
Images ©David Lamb Photography & The Wheeler School