- Architecture ServedProject Featured On:Architecture Served — 8/28/12
Carl and Ruth Shapiro Campus Center
- Carl and Ruth Shapiro Campus Center
- When Brandeis University and patrons Carl and Ruth Shapiro initiated this ambitious project, they stated clearly that they wanted a signature building. But it was up to the architects to figure out just what the building should house—and where it should be sited on Brandeis’ 235-acre campus. The design solution—worked out after extensive collaboration with students, faculty, administration and alumni—is now eminently clear as workers put the finishing touches on the 65,000-square-foot limestone, copper and colored-glass structure. Set for dedication in October 2002, the campus center is the new home to a 350-seat theater, computer library, recital hall, student clubs, bookstore and café.
Brandeis, which was founded in 1948 and lacks a traditional quad layout, offered no obvious site for the campus center. Charles Rose Architects tackled this problem by placing the Shapiro center at the geographical heart of the campus, a nod to the center’s goal of heightening the quality of student life and a symbolic gesture that puts the student at the center of the university. A parking lot and aging building were demolished to make way for the center, which opened the way for new lines of access that link the center to the admissions and administrative building, the Rose Art Museum and a large theater. Significantly, the center creates new landscapes, including a courtyard, gardens and an expansive central green space that the Post-War campus did not have before.
The center itself is really two buildings, connected by a three-story atrium. By creating two separate wings, the architects not only create distinctive parts for the buildings many functions but also offer a gracious means for the majority of rooms to enjoy tremendous amounts of natural light—a real plus for the monotonous New England winter. The atrium is criss-crossed by catwalks that connect the building’s upper levels. Intensely sculptural in design, the exterior of the north side is clad in pre-patinated copper panels, which enhance the building’s sculptural volume; limestone and copper clad the south side, which is also marked by a colored-glass curtain wall.