Salisbury University, A Maryland University of National Distinction is living up to their mission as a recognized leader according to U.S. News “Princeton Review”. Every space; whether a classroom, niche for social interaction, digital gallery, or an outdoor landscape classroom setting, is an opportunity for learning and socialization. The Teacher Education and Technology Center contributes to the successful growth and skill development of future teachers, as well as students in communication arts of music, and visual communications. The facility not only creates interior spaces carefully designed to excel at their intended use but, also recognizes the larger meaning of a campus experience.
The facility is located at the most prominent corner of campus (formally a large surface parking lot) and is the largest structure on campus. All the stakeholders recognized the importance of the design setting precedents for planned green oriented expansion outlined in the master plan. The project would be viewed as a gateway to the campus for visitors and residents alike. The design recognizes the impact of scale both from vehicular and pedestrian points of view as it becomes a defining edge of the major arterial highway in Salisbury from the pedestrian courtyard campus experience. Façade treatment in level of detail and proportions were varied in response to viewer’s proximity and budget restraints. Through careful application of architectural precast components and brick detailing both scales reflecting the campus setting and richness of a handmade product were achieved. Historical brick detailing and Georgian proportions are recognized and yet interpreted in modern terms.
The facility defines outdoor space necessary to aid in the creation of a sense of larger place and focuses the circulation spine of the facility to continually reinforce the connection to the exterior support social interaction. Multiple collaborative learning spaces of varying size and intimacy are provided at joints formed between defined program and administrative and faculty office areas.
The program required the incorporation of diverse programs ranging from staff and vehicular access required to support campus wide computer technology repair and servicing to drop-off for after-school tutoring. Vehicular access was provided to separate these two distinct uses while maintaining existing service drives per the master plan. Greening of the site actually resulted in a reduction of impervious area with incorporation of extensive storm water retention and treatment components to protect the nearby Chesapeake Bay. Salisbury University & Design & Construction Team are presently anticipating LEED certification of the project due to diligent efforts throughout the design and construction effort even thought the budget restraints prevented formal application until well into the construction process.
Computer instructional labs provide flexibility for both 30 seat classroom day use and larger staffed computer help-labs in evenings. Provision of leading edge technology for students to gain experience as they start their careers in teaching is provided in science and math labs as well as more traditional tiered lecture rooms. Opportunities are made available for students to participate in source broadcasts made from one of the three distance learning programs. Collaboration is enhanced through the use of distance learning technology for students involved in Social Work, Respiratory Therapy and Nursing programs in remote areas. Additional spaces to refine teaching skills are provided with one way mirrors to observe and be observed. Hands on experience can be gained in the May Literacy Lab after-school tutoring and reading programs. Resources made available to students are a 5,000 sq. ft. instructional resource center and elegant Carol and Jim Powers Reading Room.
The most technically challenging and exacting spaces provide high definition video labs and audio recording spaces as part of the 18,500 sq. ft. Integrated media center. The design team carefully coordinated the integration of the banks of computer equipment in the three recording studio control rooms where raised flooring was provided for future flexibility. Control systems for studio lighting, and strict acoustical separation and extraordinarily quiet mechanical systems were necessitated for theses spaces to perform successfully. Program requirements also required the maintenance of visibility to engage other students. Acoustical isolation efforts involved floating concrete floors as well as intensive vibration isolation efforts. Holder construction Company, (the CM at Risk) the Design Team, installers, and commissioning agents worked hand in hand to assure the successful operation of these unique spaces. The fifteen video editing and five audio editing suites allow the students to graduate with experience in collaborative projects. The faculty is confident they have a facility unsurpassed in the state higher education system and unique on the Delmarva Peninsula.
Interaction of occupants is encouraged by inclusion of a ground level kitchen lounge and vending area with an adjacent art gallery. A neutral gallery incorporates power and digital connections in the wall base and concealed doors within the wall display areas. The first exhibit utilized an interactive real time digital presentation developed by a student in the program.
Bidding and incorporation of technology was purposely postponed until later in the construction process to achieve the maximum benefits of both advances in digital technology and expected downward cost trends. The team members worked closely with the faculty (who themselves are leaders in the field) in order to coordinate the specifying, bidding & purchase, component integration with the building rough-ins previously provided.
Significant challenges were overcome relating to the project budgeting time frames and assumptions and subsequent state funding procedures which resulted in 45 Add Alternates to permit the project to proceed while additional funding as secured. Entirely different finish material schedules and concepts were developed in response to the budget restraints due to the often conflicting reality of first costs vs. Green and life cycle considerations. Due to the close working relationship developed during construction both the Contract Administrator (University of Maryland System) and Client (Salisbury University) desired the value added input of Ayers Saint Gross throughout the furniture and equipment design and procurement process. State contract requirements necessitate involvement of another state agency (Maryland Correctional Enterprises) for actual procurement and installation procedures. Ayers Saint Gross utilized an innovative approach of presentation and documenting of layouts, furniture, equipment, and finishes incorporating space plans on power point slides. This approach permitted on- the-fly corrections and decision documentation as well as the digital sharing for review, approval and distribution.
The students and staff have repeatedly complimented the entry stair where collaborative spirit is reinforced by representing color themes of the various programs. In opening ceremonies Dr. Virginia Pilato of the MD department of Education stated, “I’ve been to education schools all over the country, in fact, all over the world, and I’ve never seen one like this.” Perhaps the most telling example of the enthusiasm with which the project has been received is the following quote from SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach; “The Teacher Education and Technology Center is exceeding all expectations. The facility has beautifully added to the appearance of our campus, and it will enable faculty to launch exhilarating innovations in teaching and learning.”