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Sense of Place

Gulati Complex at Chestnut Hill College

University Business, July/August 2012
The lounge features a stone-clad fireplace, plush seating, ample seating areas, and a high-definition TV.
The lounge features a stone-clad fireplace, plush seating, ample seating areas, and a high-definition TV.

Two under-utilized spaces were transformed into highly trafficked, vibrant areas on Chestnut Hill College’s campus in Philadelphia.

  • Problem: Chestnut Hill had what Lauri Strimkovsky, senior vice president for financial affairs and chief of staff, refers to as a “dreary, outdated gym” and “a tired lounge space.” Both were in need of new life, and the college’s athletics program was expanding, making the need for adequate conditioning and strength training facilities essential. A state-of-the-art fitness center and a warm, welcoming gathering place for students, officials felt, would “better position us to recruit and retain students who desire the amenities of a large university, but also want to be part of a distinctive learning community at a small liberal arts college like Chestnut Hill,” Strimkovsky explains.
  • Solution: The 5,000-square-foot fitness center, which opened last November, was completed first. The ADA-compliant center includes a lounge space, new locker rooms, and about four times more fitness equipment than its predecessor. Next, the building’s Social Room underwent a renovation and restoration to create the Michael and Margaret Carney McCaffery ’77 Lounge, offering a place for study, group discussion, or relaxation. The entire facility, which also includes an entrance pavilion, is named the Jack and Rosemary Murphy Gulati ’61 Complex, for its major donors. President Carol Jean Vale, SSJ, notes that, rather than being posted in an elevator or buried on a website, the mission and core values of Chestnut Hill “are seamlessly woven into the architectural fabric of the college.” To that end, words and symbols reflective of its mission are etched in stone and written on walls within the complex. Vale adds, creating spaces that are both beautiful and rich in meaning. 
  • Cost: $3.4 million
  • Architects: Casaccio Yu Architects, Havertown, Pa. (formerly two firms that partnered for this project)