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Sense of Place

Binghamton University (N.Y.) Appalachian Collegiate Center

University Business, Dec 2005

FUNCTION: Social hub (dining hall, meeting and lounge space, snack bar, convenience store) for campus community of four residence halls

PROBLEMS: To accommodate growth, the school had been building new residence halls, one by one, without the typical Binghamton University structure of dorms grouped together with a social complex. The first two dorm projects had begun before officials made the decision to build a new collegiate center, despite a small site. In 2003, when those dorms opened, 600 students had no dining hall of their own, explains Karren Bee-Donohoe, director of long-term planning. The center would have to be completed before students could occupy the second batch of new dorms on the way. Meanwhile, a first-ever lottery meant many students were forced to live off campus, which created tensions among students and neighbors.

SOLUTIONS: With the university and design team seeking a prominent entrance to the center and large dining facility, architects created a second floor dining area with a gateway to the campus underneath, notes Ming Wu, lead designer. "A whirlwind effort" got the job done on schedule, he adds, with some parts of the building under construction while others were still being designed. Called Mountainview, the completed community (one of five at BU) will be used in part to house students as older dorms are modernized. Space is reserved for students in each grade level, despite the community being a popular request, says Director of Residential Life Terry Webb.

PROJECT COST: $15 million

COMPLETED: August 2004

ARCHITECT: Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects