On Long Island, a New Campus is Born

Sometimes, adversity stimulates a sharper focus.

That’s certainly the case with the new 57,000 square foot campus center at Molloy College on Long Island, designed by BRB Architects.

They started out designing a 75,000 square foot building in 2005, only to get tangled up first in environmental reviews, and then in the market crash of late 2008.

“It went through a number of iterations,” says architect Mark Maljanian.  “The program shifted and changed, and then we started to design in earnest all over again in 2008.  It gave us time to really think about what was really important – in shrinking it, it got better and more vibrant.”

The Catholic-affiliated school, known for its nursing program, is in the process of transitioning from commuter college to traditional campus.  BRB was asked to design its first dormitory, as well as the student activities center for the schools’ 2,500 students.

The public square creates and frames a central campus quadrangle.  A café, lounge and study space are located on the east side of the building, overlooking the quadrangle through a glazed east face of the building. The indoor spaces are an extension of the quadrangle, together creating a vibrant center for student life at Molloy.  A glass and zinc-clad eastern layer acts as a veranda, visually connecting lounge and study spaces to the outdoor quad.

“We’re trying to make the interior spaces an extension of the quad, which is a new outdoor space,” he says.  “We want to make the quad feel energized by the kids when they’re out there.”

At the heart of the three-story building is a 550-seat theater, complete with orchestra pit.  One volume drops down to the stage at the basement level, while a balcony hovers from the second floor.

It’s a far cry from earlier, 1950s and ‘60s flat roofed, generic brick structures on campus, with rooms connected by corridors.  “There’s an openness to it, with an orientation to the outside,” he says.  “There’s permeability, connectivity to spaces inside too.”

At night, it’s lit up well past dusk.  The café is open late, as are its study areas.  “Now the school has a longer day on campus for those who commute,” he says.  “They can collaborate and socialize with their fellow students, and their professors.”

For Molloy College, that’s a new step in the right direction.

For more on BRB Architects, go to http://www.brb.com/

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