career center redesign

WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY IN ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, USA

PROGRAM:  Open student competition to re-design the interior of the main campus career center office

I sought to create a space that is sleek, modern, and sophisticated - yet does not exude pretension or austerity.  I wanted to make a comfortable and inviting space that is both  beautiful and functional. More than anything, I wanted to prove that a design does not have to look “safe,” to be a tasteful, pragmatic and usable solution for Washington University, or resemble the outrageous formal whims of the architectural academia to be considered “Design” with a capital D.  Working with the office’s tight proportions and inflexible existing infrastructure, I sought to transform the space first by refining its material palette. Instead of the jarring red and off-white color scheme of the existing walls, I chose to use a brilliant white color for all gypsum surfaces and a dark slate finish for the north and east walls. The slate also functions as a chalkboard surface for a more dynamic and interactive method of exchanging ideas and displaying information. All of the tabletops, shelves, ledges, trim, and seating surfaces
are designated to be of wood construction - either glue-laminate or plank/decking construction. The staircase treads, similarly, are also made in this manner.  

Spatially, I de-emphasized the profile of the main desk by letting its geometry evolve more organically from the contours of the room. In doing so, I created more visual and spatial continuity throughout the office and opened up more spaces for students to sit while they wait for their appointments. Waiting students are now more comfortably spread throughout the office in smaller groups of chairs, sofas, and built-in benches which help to counteract the lifeless atmosphere of typical waiting rooms by promoting peer to peer interactions. The library, too, is now extends throughout the seating areas. Now it can be less of a transitional space, and be more integrated into the overall character of the office. On the north end of the office, the nook by the window is raised up one stair height and separated from the rest of the office by a sliding glass pocket door to allow for more private conferences with career advisers. However, the doors can open and slide fully into a pocket in the wall, allowing the nook to fully rejoin the office as a more social waiting area. Lastly, to help complement the understated, homey and earthen materials used in the design, the office also features an abundance of selected indoor greenery and a warm color-temperature lighting strategy that helps to complement the room’s natural afternoon light, and to soften the dreary monotony of the institutional grade overhead fluorescent lighting.

FLOORPLAN

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