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Sense of Place

The Payden Academic Center Trinity Washington University

Center replaces Trinity Washington’s outdated science building, which was more than 75 years old
University Business, August 2016
  • 21st century learning: The first new academic building built at Trinity Washington University in more than 50 years, The Payden Academic Center brings state-of-the-art nursing and science labs to a campus with roots in the Victorian Era. The exterior blends with the architectural style of other campus buildings, with a façade comprised of precast and stone and the roof covered in terra cotta tiles.
  • The 80,000-square-foot facility includes 12 fully equipped science labs, including two nursing simulation spaces featuring computer-controlled robotic mannequins.

The Payden Academic Center—the first new academic building added to Trinity’s historic Washington, D.C. campus in more than half a century, provides much needed instructional space for the school’s growing nursing and health programs as well as a step into modern architecture.

The four-story, LEED-certified structure accommodates classes from every discipline offered on campus so that all students can take advantage of its offerings.

Challenge

A 2,200-student institution founded in 1897 as a Catholic women’s college, Trinity Washington now also offers coeducational undergraduate and graduate programs and serves mainly first-generation urban students. Ninety percent of the student population is African-American or Hispanic, and 85 percent of students receive Pell grants.

Finding resources to expand or modernize the campus has been a challenge, and the limitations were hampering instruction, particularly in the sciences.

“We were truly teaching in the midst of antiquity,” says President Patricia McGuire. “We had all the modern technologies, but it was so difficult for the faculty as well as the students to adapt that to the older buildings.”

Solution

The Payden Academic Center replaces Trinity Washington’s outdated science building, which was more than 75 years old.

The new 80,000-square-foot facility includes 12 fully equipped science labs, including two nursing simulation spaces featuring computer-controlled robotic mannequins. The center also has 23 classrooms (including two tiered rooms that can accommodate 70 students), seminar spaces, study lounges and faculty offices.

Trinity connects with the community by making gathering spaces in the center available to the public.

Visitors enter through a rotunda-like atrium with recessed lighting and a striking terrazzo floor featuring the school’s seal. The space has become popular with students and returning alumni for photos.

The center is also a dramatic departure from the drab Victorian buildings that have long constituted the campus.

“Students walk into this beautiful, bright building that’s climate-controlled, and they are in awe,” says McGuire. “Some have cried, saying, ‘You built this for us?’ When they saw the new science labs, a few students were overheard saying, ‘I’m going to change my major. That’s some cool stuff.’ ”

  • COMPLETED: June 2016
  • COST: $38 million
  • PROJECT TEAM: JLL, project manager; EYP Architecture & Engineering and Clark Construction Group LLC, (Bethesda, Maryland), build team 

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