PKSB’s new, multi-purpose building for Clinch Valley College of the University of Virginia is an innovative solution to a number of site constraints on campus. The firm’s approach to the issues of circulation and handicapped access garnered a PA Award in 1995 for a structure that plays a key role in the transformation of a divided campus into a single, cohesive composition. Visually, as well as in plan, the building seeks to be part of its environment and the use of simple materials connects it both to the landscape and the campus.
The design was based on the University’s upper campus master plan and the need for a structure that would transform a divided campus into a single entity. An outdoor circulation zone was placed along the eastern façade of the building along the ridge of a steep hill to create a link between the main campus entry and the lower campuses. The western façade operates at a more formal scale, relating to the more distant buildings and the mountain landscape. Where the building forms a courtyard with its neighbors, the façades and entries are more intimate in scale and detail.
The building’s internal areas promote interaction among the many departments that share it, with a central portion containing computer labs, traditional and electronic classrooms, art studios, and a media center with a television production room. Each department is stacked vertically around a vertical circulation node with transparent elements that allow views from one department to another. A glass enclosure that rises through the building culminates in a double-height student lounge that benefits from views of the upper and lower campuses and the mountains beyond.