As part of MSA’s continued partnership with Great Oaks, this multi-phased project adds classroom and lab space, creates a more secure entrance to the campus, allowing for the future move of off-site programs to the main campus, and adds cafeteria and other common space to allow for continued growth. The new addition in the second phase connects the two existing buildings and restructures the flow of students within the buildings. The new “Connector” entry provides an organized pick up and drop off area for students and additional parking for staff members. Adding north and south corridors allows for better accessibility and coordinated flow between lab spaces.
The Connector is the transformation piece of this project that unifies, stimulates, and creates a welcoming entry into the campus. This connector addition is the “spine” of the building due to its centralized location and spoke-like features. The Connector is designed to feel airy, welcoming, and pay tribute to the aviation history of the campus’ location. The columns in this space are designed with organic forms in mind and situated in an irregular pattern to mimic a woodland environment that creates visual interest as individuals walk through the 211-foot-long space. Angles of the columns’ spokes reflect the geometry of airplane wings, a nod to the site’s aviation history. The ceiling is blanketed with perforated metal panels reflective of weather map patterning that creates a tree canopy-like presence. Design inspiration was drawn from nature components such as weather mapping imagery and forests, but also highlights modern technology and the industrial characteristics of the site’s surroundings.
A History of Aviation
To honor the area’s aviation heritage as well as the Laurel Oaks site’s history as an air base, the new connective addition is designed to evoke an aircraft’s struts-braced wing. The design also provides significant natural light in the center of the building. The aviation inspiration continues within through the environmental graphics which mimic the flow and momentum of wind patterns and a suspended perforated metal “sky” within the central spine.
Corridors were added to provide more efficient circulation and access to the Technical Labs on the northern and southern ends of facility. Before the renovation, students and staff walked through the separate labs to get to their destination. These corridors also provide intentional levels of natural light into the space. The south corridor was designed to have limited glazing to control sunlight and minimize the view of the adjacent airport. While more glazing is applied on the north corridor as it faces the front landscaping of campus.