Our studio was commissioned by Haverford College to add 160 dormitory rooms to the school. During our first visit we were struck by the campus, which is a registered arboretum, and the open yet intimate character of its landscape. The college has deep Quaker roots and a tradition of making decisions by consensus. So, the students were a vital part of the building committee. Their involvement resulted in a change of program from double and triple rooms to all single rooms.
Early in the design process, we discovered that the site was located on unusable fill that would require significant remediation. Rather than trucking it off-site, we used the fill to create a landscaped berm between two rectangular, two-story structures. The berm provides direct access to the buildings’ upper level, eliminating the need for fire stairs or elevators. The savings both in space and budget allowed us to create more public space and use better finishes, such as oak flooring and custom tiles.
Inside, along each building’s perimeter, we arranged rooms around common areas instead of the standard double-loaded corridor. This resulted in a plan with the same area but with much less perimeter. A central, open courtyard in each building provides light, air, and a protected outdoor space for student use. Lounges and kitchens are located on either side of these courtyards. When weather permits, large sliding glass doors can be opened to connect inside and outside. Laundry rooms, bathrooms, and study rooms with expansive views are located nearby. The furniture is designed with dimensions that allow for numerous configurations. Patterned felt wall panels and a range of Heath Ceramic tiles line the hallways. Wood battens and a light grey brick add a warm and cool character to lounge areas, which are outfitted with comfortable, moveable furniture.
The buildings are clad with a more varied, darker brown version of the interior brick. This material visually connects to the surrounding masonry structures, while the Roman brick size and variegated glaze makes these buildings stand out. The result is a new residential community where architecture and landscape are inextricably linked.