The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Admissions Center at Brandeis University is the second project designed by Charles Rose Architects at the top-tier University. Brandeis required an Admissions building which would be open, inviting and contemporary “yet warm”—complementing the modernist tradition of the campus’s existing buildings. With the construction of the Admissions Center, the University has fulfilled its goal of enhancing the visitor experience through the use of natural light, sculptural form, and venerable materials.
The new building houses all aspects of the Admissions Department program and acts as a gateway to the campus for prospective students and their families. As the first stop on campus for most prospective students, the building serves to orient visitors by establishing and framing important views of Brandeis’ growing campus. The building’s main floor includes a multi-media 100-seat presentation room, interview suites, staff offices, informational/display areas, and several comfortable waiting lounges. With expansive views and an abundance of daylight, the second floor accommodates the “back-of-house” spaces for the admissions staff that prepares, distributes, collects, and evaluates student applications. A light-filled double-height atrium space visually connects the two levels and is intended to spatially impress prospective students and create a positive and dynamic memory of their visit to the school. The approach to the building through the landscape is accessible and welcoming, and the building’s terrace serves as the starting and ending location for campus tours.
To convey University values of excellence and innovation, high quality materials such as limestone, American Sycamore paneling, artisan plastering, and acoustical fabric ceilings are employed throughout the building in its sculptural forms. These materials are meticulously detailed, conveying a sense of solidity and durability. In addition, the warm material palette of stone and wood creates an appealing academic atmosphere conducive to the Admissions Department’s recruitment objectives. Similarly, the design is tightly coordinated with the structural and mechanical systems, resulting in a fully integrated interior and exterior design. For example, carefully detailed casework, which conceals unattractive linear heating units, provides comfortable seating in the waiting areas and custom workstations on the upper level; the casework design effectively directs heat up and allows full maintenance access as needed. In addition, the building’s large condensing unit and unsightly exhaust fans are located in an exterior space (the mechanical well) on the second floor. The exterior walls of the mechanical well are fully integrated into the façade so that the large unit and fans are hidden from sight, while providing easy access without a need for a ladder or roof hatch for maintenance staff. Further, the building meets the sustainable goals established by Brandeis and is designed to a LEED Gold standard.
Fulfilling the campus master plan, the site design for the building transformed a large parking lot into a new landscaped quadrangle, enhancing the environment while providing key circulation paths. The new landscaped area connects the university dormitories to the rest of campus.
Location: Waltham, MA, US