selinsgrove, pennsylvania

Located on the edge of the Susquehanna University campus in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, this project looks at an often overlooked building type - the prefabricated metal building. Built from a kit of standardized components, this American Metal Building was built in the early 1980s for the use of a prefabricated home manufacturer. Purchased by the University and currently known as the White Building, this metal structure was selected twenty-six years later to become Trax, a new student social space for Susquehanna University. The project provides the campus with a safe place for students to enjoy a number of activities such as dance parties, live bands and DJ performances, "foam" parties, formals, monday night football, and theme related evenings.

This project looks at how the prefabricated metal building can attempt to become a piece of architecture. The goals of this project were three fold: the first was to engage a group of students who represent a number of different fractions; understand their needs and find an appropriate architectural expression; the second was to work with the University's Student Life staff and faculty to meet the public safety, programmatic needs, limited budget and compressed timeframe of the project; and lastly, the third goal was to meet the stringent needs of the Facilities Management Department to make the building energy efficient, easy and fast to construct, durable and easy to maintain.

Conceived to be chameleon-like, the building looks by day seemingly anonymous as it blends into to the campus edge (an edge made up of parking lots and weathered prefabricated structures). But at night, the building reverses itself by being illuminated with Color Kinetics lighting. This unique lighting system allows the students to wash the metal building's white exterior with any color or groups of colors they desire via a software program, thus helping students on campus understand when an event is going on. To further this idea, Color Kinetics lighting also lights up the nearby Facilities smokestack which acts as a beacon to inform the entire campus community of events happening at Trax. The illumination of the exterior also helps to visually connect this building to the edge of the athletics quadrangle helping to define this important quadrangle from both the residential and academic quadrangles.

The interior is made of recycled content gypsum board, Hardipanel, exposed plywood, structural metal framing, translucent Lumasite panels, polished concrete and off-the-shelf industrial materials. In combination, these materials lead to a durable, spatially interesting and cost-effective solution which challenges the nature of its utilitarian roots.

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