Columbus Learning CenterColumbus, IN, USA Community Education Coalition Ratio, Architect-of-Record Education 123,000 ft2 / 11,000 m2 AIA New York Chapter Project Design Awards, Citation (2001)
The Columbus Learning Center is a multi-tenant education facility and community resource center. The design of the two-story building is inspired by the surrounding landscape, which features the simple forms of industrial factories, farmhouses and silos. Each program component for the new facility is housed in a distinct brick and glass form. The shapes of these forms are influenced by the functions contained within them.
The building’s goal is to encourage people outside of the educational system to utilize the center’s services to develop a personalized curriculum. In order to achieve this goal, the building’s design must be visually accessible. With this in mind, the new facility is sited between two existing buildings. It acts as a bridge between the two, reducing their physical and psychological distance. The building’s entry is an outdoor room framed by brick walls in the form of arms opening toward the community.
As one enters the building, the interior opens up to the landscape beyond via a clear glass-enclosed public street that links the lobby to all services within the building. Along this light-filled spine are reception “intake” areas for the various users. “Wired” lounges are sprinkled throughout to facilitate social interaction in communal gathering spaces.
Flexibility was extremely important in developing the design. A two-foot raised-floor plenum is provided to allow for flexibility in technology and mechanical distribution building-wide. As the program offerings change over time, spaces can be easily reconfigured without significant alterations to the building’s support system.