Archive for the ‘Higher Education’ Category

Dennis Kowal Architects expands “The Innovation University”   1 comment

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Dennis Kowal Architects expands “The Innovation University”

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The proposed new Stevens Institute of Technology Library overlooking the Hudson at Castle Point.

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New Jersey’s Stevens Institute of Technology, ranked as one of the top 75 schools in the United States, asked DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS  to plan renovations  and expansion of their existing 70,000 square foot Samuel C. Williams Library and Computer Center.     The 1960’s building which sits at the heart of the Castle Point campus has not kept up with the technology and innovation for which the school is known.

Kowal says “after extensive interviews with the students, faculty, and new Stevens President, Nariman Farvardin, a plan to transform and expand the four level library was presented and embraced by the planning committee and administration.  The concept provides team study and research environments that facilitates student and faculty interaction and problem solving; a hallmark of the Stevens successful teaching style.

In addition to the traditional library functions, key design features of the new Library include a concert pavilion, new graduate lounge, more seating and computer work areas, quiet study rooms, projection-equipped rooms to practice and record team presentations, lab-style student “collaboration” spaces to facilitate student interaction, digitized reference materials, archives, and a small student commons.

10.22.12

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The new Library is part of an expansion plan that will double the undergraduate population.  The Library design by DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS is a part of an overall master plan study.  Funding and approval of the project are currently underway.  A large part of the new master plan is dedicated to focusing on technology in sectors such as health care, defense and finance.  

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Students in the existing library often work at tables without power connections in rooms without adequate seating. The existing building will be renovated and expanded to become a center of for study and community.
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The DKA planning with faculty and staff was broadcast throughout the University to obtain the maximum input from the students and users.    Above, Kelly Smozanek of  Dennis Kowal Architects leads a workshop with faculty.  This consensus approach to design resulted in wide acceptance and a strong solution.

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DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS is currently planning facilities at Rutgers University and the Stevens Institute of Technology.

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University Students bring teacher an Apple!   Leave a comment

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University Students bring teacher an Apple!

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 How do you design a University Conference Center that also accepts fork lifts!  This was the unique challenge solved by Dennis Kowal Architects at Rutgers Fruit Research and Extension Center.  The Cream Ridge Agricultural Center is composed of labs, barns, fruit orchards, cold storage and teachers and students who basically study apples for shelf life, taste, insect resistance and productivity.

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Dennis Kowal Architects converted a leaky equipment storage barn into a state-of-the-art conference center but the same facility had a few more requirements.  For example, a couple times a year, the Agricultural conference center hosts a farming event where farm equipment and some of the orchard harvests are on display and Rutgers wanted the Conference Room walls to open to the out of doors for a “flow through” experience.   Also, the Conference Center contained labs and cold storage for the fruit specimens picked from the orchards by the crate-load and the floors needed to handle fork lift traffic while still meeting   the sophisticated sound requirements for lectures and meetings.

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A symposium room for up to fifty people exists in the same space as the labs and cold storage.   The flexible space must serve as Lecture Hall, Exhibit Space, and Museum. The Conference Center also is an Agricultural Museum, often displaying farm equipment which is brought in through the overhead doors.  Dennis Kowal Architects used a floating wood grid ceiling to allow the overhead doors to disappear above the grid, creating the open-air feeling on fair days while maintaining the decorum of a museum on other days.

The same area before the major renovations consisted of exposed, un- insulated construction, farming supplies and otherwise wasted space.

The Research Center studies small fruits, including apples, peaches, apricots, nectarines, brambles, strawberries, and ornamental nursery crops. The center increases production efficiency and protects fruit crops against environmental and biological hazards, while decreasing production costs and pesticide use. As a result of their research and development, some fruit storage can last all winter.

The amount of lay-in ceiling was minimized to reduce exposure to humidity when the barn doors are opened and the conference center becomes a fairgrounds!

Reclaimed barn beams and wood were used for the door lintels and door frames to link the new facility to its heritage.

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Dennis Kowal Architects designs for higher education and supports students through internships.

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DKA Planetarium “stars” in TV show   Leave a comment

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DKA Planetarium “stars” in TV show

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The dramatic entry to the Space Museum was conceived by DKA to transition visitors from daylight and earth to the outer space and the nighttime sky.

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DKA designed the Planetarium and Space Museum at Raritan Valley Community College to evoke space travel.  When it was time to celebrate the 400th year anniversary of Galileo looking into space with a telescope,  the TV show the “Cake Boss” brought a solar system cake through the dramatic space tunnel  entrance to the Planetarium.    Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro said “when I brought the cake to the planetarium, going down that hallway, it felt like I was bringing the cake into outer space, it was so cool!”.

The design elicits reactions from almost everyone who enters the lobby doors and the space travel “experience” begins long before showtime through the use of lighting, materials and creative design.     It is not unusual for children to drop the hand of their parents and head straight for the tunnel entrance before buying a ticket!  “In fact”, says principal architect, Dennis Kowal, “I’ve seen a few adults do this as well!”   Architecture that conjures emotional response is a real treat.

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The Planetarium seating is surrounded by a seamless welded wire fabric that seems to dissolve away to reveal the technology behind when the lights are lowered.  The wire fabric wall appears solid upon entering the Planetarium and then the magic begins!  Space and enclosure melt away as the room darkens and what appeared solid now reveals an even larger space beyond, simulating the effect of the vastness of looking into the night sky.
   

Buddy and the staff of Cake Boss are seen  passing through the 40’ space tunnel  to deliver the cake to an expectant crowd.    The cake boss said the Planetarium gave them “one of the warmest receptions we ever got”.

The college course catalogue which featured the planetarium and design on its cover shows the projector in use.  Much research of other Planetariums went into the design and selection of equipment.

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The floor plan is designed in a series of orbits circulating visitors through the lobby, tunnel, museum, and planetarium.

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DKA is known for integrating architecture and technology.

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