The Robert C. Byrd Academic & Technology Center was conceived as an educational expansion of a recently established branch campus for graduate studies at Marshall University, whose main campus is located in Huntington, W.Va. Because of the need to consolidate fragmented learning resources and the unique relationship with regional high-tech industry, the project CAPACITY730COST PER SQ FT$193.00FEATURED IN1999 Architectural Portfolio into a multiuse facility serving both the academic and technology needs as separate, yet cohesive elements.
The facility consists of a total of 25,000 square feet, with 6,000 square feet devoted to a computerized manufacturing research and industry incubator, and 4,000 square feet serving the Learning Resources Center for Graduate Studies. Twelve fully automated classrooms and a 50-student distance-learning center comprise the remainder of the facility, along with associated public and support space.
The integration of major services was a challenge that was successfully solved. The differentiation of colors and textures in floor, ceiling and wall materials helps direct students to various learning areas. The interior is a comprehensive effort including design, selection and procurement of movable and fixed furniture. In addition, fixed casework for reception and information areas was custom-designed.
Interior and exterior elements represent an interaction of rectangular and curvilinear forms and materials. Circular column surrounds emphasize structural elements with a contemporary motif. Exterior and interior walls are curved to soften yet strengthen the visual impact, and to provide an ease in pedestrian circulation. A rustic split-faced limestone block accents the main entries inside and out, from which a more refined reddish brick extends the aesthetic between tinted fixed-glass insulating windows and dominant glass- block features.
The exterior visibly clarifies the main architectural elements during the daytime, while at night the building and site lighting emphasize the primary entrances as beacons of invitation. Along with wall torchieres that highlight the exterior columns, an internally lit glass-block barrel vault over the main circulation stairs makes this facility recognizable as a tribute to higher education, situated on a mountain precipice, visible to the nearby community and interstate travelers miles away.
This project has helped to promote and label this institution as a landmark of quality higher education.
Photographer: ©Ferrell Photographics