Design, Projects, Products

Quinnipiac Health & Wellness Center | Designing for Experience

Led by Boston firm designLAB architects, the 55,000-square-foot home of Quinnipiac University’s new health and wellness center was designed to nurture students and prepare them for success beyond the school’s Hamden, Connecticut Campus. Opened in early 2023, the center is home to the new healthy-living program supporting mental health, nutrition, lifestyle education, and recreation-focused programing, reinforcing the school’s vision of being “the university of the future.”

According to designLAB, “The structure creates a new central courtyard for student gathering or quiet contemplation.” The architect achieved this by incorporating the use of natural materials, such as wood finishes, local stone and green living walls. The exposed heavy timber frame structure is complemented with expansive use of glass and glazing using Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope (OBE) high performance Reliance™ -TC and Reliance™ Cassette Curtain Wall systems, along with the thoughtful use of skylights.

Designing for climate

Reliance™ -TC – short for ‘thermal composite’ – was selected for use throughout the building for its high thermal performance to support in managing the building’s energy consumption during cold Connecticut winters. Designed for LEED gold, it helps the building achieve sustainability ambitions and manage operational emissions, and costs. One of OBE’s most flexible curtain wall systems, Reliance™ -TC’s variety of infill, pressure plates and glazing applications allowed the design and construction team to customize it for the project, minimizing U-factor and maximizing Condensation Resistance Factor (CRF), while allowing for quick and easy assembly. The curtain wall was coupled with the high-thermal Series 3000 XT storefront for ground-floor elevations to balance design appeal and cost. This ensures student and staff comfort in the main parts of the building, the recreation center and in meeting rooms, providing expansive views of the natural landscape as well as the adjacent Sleeping Giant State Park.

Light-drenched, flexible spaces

The courtyard is another feature of the building that supports programming with creative design that provides thoughtful spaces for both solitude and connectedness. The exposed heavy timber frame structure is complemented with Reliance™ Cassette Curtain Wall system, a 4-sided structurally glazed system that has the cassettes pre-glazed into the curtain wall frame to ensure quality of assembly before being brought on-site for glazing and installation. The system is ideal for smaller spaces, like the courtyard, where space doesn’t easily accommodate staging equipment. It also helps keep the project on schedule, minimizing the need for field labor. The outcome was a modern façade that provides light-drenched flexible spaces for students and staff.

“It’s amazing how much was built with the ‘If you build it, they will come’ mentality,” designLAB principal in charge Sam Batchelor told Architectural Record about the project. The social and emotional components of the building are, literally, at its core, and many of those elements were envisioned and added during the design process, including multiple flex spaces, a teaching kitchen, and a two-story climbing wall that reaches toward a sky-lit ceiling, noted Architectural Record.

Balancing privacy and solitude

OBE BMS-3000 skylights were used in the recreational space as well as strategically designed by the architects to provide counseling rooms that are daylit yet private. The skylights selected are completely adaptable allowing for maximum design flexibility. They were set into the sawtooth rooflines of meeting rooms to softly illuminate the spaces.

Early indicators suggest the new building has been a welcome addition to the campus with student usage surging. As a hub for health and wellness, and more importantly for respite or connection – depending on what each person is seeking, the design has achieved its intent while maximizing the building’s performance to achieve both form and function.

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