Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gateway building to go green

By Mary E. O’Leary
Register Topics Editor
— The new Gateway Community College will be a four-story brick and glass structure that will run along Church Street with a multilevel atrium connecting the two-block-long facility and a separate garage fronting on Crown Street.
City aldermen and members of the city’s Development Commission got a look Tuesday at the $198 million project as designed by architects Perkins and Will of New York. The meeting, shown above, was held at Gateway's Long Wharf Campus.
As traffic exits from the Route 34 connector to downtown New Haven, the first thing drivers will see of the college is a three-story glass-enclosed library with a green roof, a feature that wraps the corner of North Frontage Road and Church Street.
The main entrances to the two-block structure will be at the corner of George and Church streets with another at Church and Crown streets; separate ground-level entrances will be open to the public at the bookstore, cafeteria and an art gallery along Church Street.
The facility will be the first gold-certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building constructed with state funds.
"The Gateway project will be a model of energy efficiency for the state," Gov. M. Jodi Rell said. The LEED designation means it will use environmentally friendly materials and incorporate alternative energy technologies, including photovoltaic panels.
The "green" elements are expected to pay for themselves in 8½ years, according to state officials.
The original estimate for the long-awaited project was $140 million when the college put together a master plan in 2002 to consolidate its small windowless campus at Long Wharf in New Haven and a separate facility in North Haven.
Gateway has just under 6,000 full-time students enrolled in the two-year facility, and expects to have a 2 percent student enrollment increase each year, with construction scheduled to begin in summer 2009; the completion date is fall 2012.
The college will feature 115 classrooms, up from 80 in the existing school, and will be able to serve 7,000 full-time students, according to Gateway President Dorsey Kendrick. Another 4,000 to 5,000 students attend short-term continuing education courses.
Architect Robert Goodwin said it was a challenge to meet all the program needs of the college in the 360,000-square-foot facility without going higher than four stories.
The four-level atrium connecting the facility across George Street is a signature design element, as is a series of cascading stairs within the structure connecting the floors and opening it to indirect light.
He referrred to it as a "linear three-dimensional campus," and said the stairs would feature adjacent stadium seating where students could gather.
One disappointing feature was placement of the garage along a portion of Crown Street, which Economic Development Director Kelly Murphy and Parking and Traffic Director Michael Piscitelli thought would be hidden within the college.
Goodwin said such a design interfered with the need for sufficient contiguous space.
Alderwoman Frances "Bitsey" Clark, D-7, was worried about traffic entering and exiting on Crown Street, and the effect on expanding the college’s weekend classes on the heavy nightlife traffic from Thursday through Saturdays.
She also favored something to break up the blank wall of the garage on Crown Street. "You need to do something to make it exciting," she said.
Goodwin offered that there will be an estimated $1 million to commission art for the site, and Crown Street is a good area for it. In answer to Kelly, he said the linear design is broken up by vertical breaks in the glass wall and frosted glass in the small tower on Crown Street, while there is blue-glazed brick along the front.
Several city officials suggested the atrium be glass on both sides, but Goodwin said that would increase the cost.

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