Wake Forest University's new Charlotte Center situates the university in the heart of the city’s business and financial district. It occupies nearly 25,000 square feet on the first floor of the former International Trade Center Building.
The center is a showcase of flexibility and technology. Tiered distance-learning CAPACITY548COST PER SQ FT$106.42CITATIONAdaptive Reuse CitationFEATURED IN2012 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYRenovation are designed so students can easily assemble into small groups for collaborative exercises or interface with colleagues around the world via a videoconferencing system. A 3,600-square-foot multipurpose room serves as event space or can be converted quickly into three smaller classrooms, using acoustically sound retractable walls.
The open design concept means that learning isn’t confined to classrooms. The spacious lobby and common areas offer students options for individual study and collaboration, including laptop workstations and seating areas grouped for discussion.
The building was constructed in the early 1920s as a bakery warehouse; a renovation in the late 1980s expanded the building footprint with an updated exterior shell. For nearly two decades, the windowless interior space was used primarily for trade-show exhibitions.
The task of creating a center for collaborative learning and community engagement was not without challenges. The space was punctuated by massive structural columns, 36 inches in diameter, set at 20-foot intervals throughout much of the space, and neighbors include a busy parking deck, a light-rail station and a bar.
Thoughtful planning and a creative approach to sound isolation turned this windowless, nondescript former exhibit hall into a dynamic environment where students and the business community can come together.
"Remarkable transformation of a tired building with multi-use, technology-driven spaces. Great recognition of the institution. Collaborative, flexible learning spaces."--2012 jury