Prominently located next to the New York Niagara Section Thruway on an abandoned brownfield site, the largest building in 20 years in Buffalo helped encourage economic development in the area. The design utilizes an 1859 stone façade to maintain historic preservation of the site’s past while incorporating a curved glass curtain wall. The curtain wall not only offers magnificent views of Lake Erie, but its southern exposure provides a valuable component of the building’s sustainable design.
The north, east, and west façades are a detailed colored architectural precast concrete with large window openings, recalling brick waterfront warehouses. The entry plaza reflects the shifted city grids of the waterfront and downtown. The building is set back from the thruway, allowing the site development of a landscaped “greenway”, and screening a 1,500-car employee parking structure with an enclosed employee pedestrian bridge connection.
Sustainable design features include the development of an urban brownfield site; the southern glass curtain wall with low-e glazing and sunscreens with motorized shades and light sensors for solar control, day lighting and views; energy efficient mechanical and electrical systems; and the use of “green” building materials and construction practices.
Hamilton Southeastern Schools conducted a community study and determined that rather than building a third high school to meet the needs of their growing community, they would build advanced learning center academies at each campus to accommodate an additional 1,000 students.
CSO was selected to work with stakeholders to explore the requirements of a learning center that would meet their academic needs while taking into consideration what teaching and learning looks like at institutions of higher education and centers of innovative learning. CSO worked with educational experts to gather stakeholder input around the tenets of 21st Century School Design and developed design concepts that met the required scope and quality for the project. Design documents and detailed renderings were developed for both high schools and were critical in the passing of the May 2013 referendum. After the referendum was passed, CSO used the detailed design documents to develop the design criteria package that allowed the school corporation to issue an RFP for design-build teams. CSO stayed on the project through construction as owner’s representative.
In addition to expanding each high school’s capacity by 1,000 students, the academies also reflect the most innovative design for teaching and learning with accessible space for early college classes that provide actual college credits for high school students. Additions are 2-stories and reflect the qualities of 21st Century Design with copious daylight, transparency in learning spaces, ubiquitous technology, and flexible learning spaces that are sized for small and large group gatherings. Teachers do not “own” their classroom space but have an office space available, similar to the arrangements in higher education. A Student Learning Commons, adjacent to the student café, has technology tables and opportunities for small group collaboration. A large, open science lab serves all disciplines and art labs open to one another, creating a free flowing creative environment.