Breaking the Plane - Design Bureau

The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Admissions Center at Brandeis University

Rose Exterior

Rose Exterior

 The Drawing, Painting and Photography (DPP) studio at the Oregon College of Art and Craft 

Executive Mother and Child Desk

Executive Mother and Child Desk

Executive Mother and Child Desk

Executive Mother and Child Desk

 

Breaking the Plane

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Traditional architecture thinking will tell you that by separating structures into distinct entities, you effectively cut off communication and flow between those spaces. Charles Rose Architects believes it does just the opposite. By making use of distinct, separate elements, the firm relies on the in-between interactions that occur as people move from one space to another. “As individuals use our buildings or our furniture, they enter into the dialogue we have initiated," CRA says, "they become active participants in the conversation.”

The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Admissions Center at Brandeis University is meant to be a warm and inviting place for prospective students and their families. The top-tier university wanted to improve the experience visitors of campus have by rethinking "natural light, sculptural form, and venerable materials." Instead of one main waiting area, CRA divided it into three smaller, more intimate areas. The goal was to orient visitors in stages — to the campus, the building, and the interview process — by guiding their line of sight. The main floor contains a multimedia 100-seat presentation room, interview suites, staff offices, informational/display areas, and several comfortable waiting lounges, while the second floor contains the offices of the admissions staff. Connecting both floors is a light-filled atrium space. The cherry on top? The building's sustainability has met a LEED-Gold standard.

The Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC) is the only private art college west of the Mississippi to offer an accredited BFA in Crafts. CRA was selected by OCAC to design its drawing, painting, and photography studio. With the goal of creating a space where nature and craft communicate, the design firm once again played with planes in order to embrace the natural hillside landscape. With 6,240 square feet of drawing and painting studios, 5,645 square feet of photography space, and a state-of-the-art digital lab, the university now has a space that meets both the aesthetic and pedagogical needs. The design fosters interaction, circulation, and examination by placing students in continually new situations and vantage points. And again the designer was been able to meet these needs while caring for the environment by earning a LEED-Silver certification.

Finally, the Executive Mother and Child Desk project is a breath of fresh air for those who work from home. The elevated surface of the desk facilitates face-to-face meetings along and features a pull-out tray for a laptop. The lower surface provides a work space geared towards a child. By simply bending the plane of the desk, the firm has again sparked a new platform for communication. It's a way of staying close while retaining a space conducive to productivity and, if needed, solitude. 

All three projects together speak to Charles Rose Architects' ability to consider both individual needs and the needs of a community. By carefully separating and then blurring the boundaries, it creates innovative spaces where the next great idea can be born.

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