Skidmore College’s proposed new science center needed to address the customary challenges of site placement, scale and image. Positioned at the primary campus entrance across from the arts precinct, the science center frames a gateway to the campus. While the majority of the new construction harmonizes with the existing campus context, the focal point is the atrium, which is the nexus of activity within the science center where all of its corridors converge. The atrium will be a living room for the 200,000 SF complex and for the entire campus community. Its large south facing window looks out to the grove, a tree filled campus quad, and to the arts precinct beyond.
In order to filter the sunlight and reduce the excessive heat-gain, the team proposed a solar screen to be placed in front of the upper two floor levels of the atrium’s south window. This screen offers a significant opportunity beyond its function to enter a dialogue with the arts, further enhancing the campus gateway experience. To kick-off the brainstorming process, Principal-in-Charge Bob Schaeffner started sketching some ideas. He was inspired by the trees in the grove and began to sketch abstract leaves – as if one were lying on one’s back mad looking through the trees. By sketching a pattern, Bob hoped this would introduce a more artistic element to the solar screen.
After sketching for about an hour, Bob turned his handiwork over to the design team for us to scan and incorporate into the SketchUp model. We explored a number of options with the sketch, from altering the opacity to inverting the line work and cleaning up the edges.
Finally, we turned all the pieces over to our 3D visualization department for them to work their magic. They incorporated the pattern into the existing renderings of the interior of the atrium and demonstrated how the pattern would work as a solar screen. We’re excited to bring this new concept of solar screening into reality.
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