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Hamline’s ‘Living Room’

Posted on 11 August 2012 by robwas66

New University Center designed for ‘collaboration’

At 133,163 square feet, including underground parking, the Center is the largest construction project that has been done on the campus. The third floor also offers a terrace with native plants and grasses. The green aspects of the building, especially the roof, have been created with help from Ken Dehkes, director of Facilities Operations and Horticulture Services. Dehkes has a background in horticulture, landscape management and design. (Photo by Stefanie Berres)

By JAN WILLMS

The first thing that strikes you as you enter the new Anderson University Center at Hamline University is the incredible view, magnified by the open spaces throughout the building.

At 133,163 square feet, including underground parking, the Center is the largest construction project that has been done on the campus.

The entrance on Snelling Avenue leads to an airy, spacious area with a store, the Spirit Shop, on the right where university gear can be purchased. With an information and welcoming desk on the left, visitors can walk in and use a number of computers available, watch an overhead television for the latest news or purchase a latte from the Starbucks.

“This floor is designated as a gathering space,” said Hamline student Marie Harmon, as she provides an informational tour of the new building. “We have not had one on campus. This center is energetic, yet clean. There is a real sense of community.”

She said the television is there for students to look up and see what’s happening. “We want them to be informed,” she said.

Throughout the open spaces are collections of chairs, encouraging people to be comfortable and relax. The rooms are in serene colors, beige and dark red walls, but the chairs provide a splash of bright color. And from almost anywhere in this gathering space, students and visitors can look out and see the impressive Old Main, the first building that was built on the campus.

“This is Hamline’s living room,” Harmon explained. This first floor also features a health privacy room for mothers who may need it, or for anyone dealing with a health issue. An outdoor patio provides more seating space, and a memorial that is being dedicated to Civil War participants is being erected near the Center. Smaller rooms are available on a first come, first served basis for more private study or conversations.

A circular staircase leads to the second floor, which provides dining facilities for 500. “That’s four times bigger than our old dining space,” Harmon said.

According to Lowell Bromander, associate vice president for facilities services, the Center opened Aug. 10 to the public

“We had football players arriving Aug. 11, and we had to be ready to feed them,” he said.

The building, which was designed by the Shepley Bulfinch Firm, had McGough Construction as the principal contractor. There are as few right angles as possible in the design.

Diners can use their meal plan to purchase meals in the dining room, as well as items from Starbucks. People can also bring in their own box lunches, use a microwave if needed, and sit at a table and eat their fare. The public can purchase food in the dining area, as well.

The third floor offers meeting rooms, a conference space and offices for campus organizations.

“Our focus is on student involvement,” Harmon emphasized. There is a tear-drop shaped room designated for meditation, complete with pillows and mats. The third floor also offers a terrace with native plants and grasses. The outdoor furniture is expected to arrive in late August, and can remain outdoors through the winter.

“The roof has permeable tiles,” Harmon said, “that can catch rainwater.”

The green aspects of the building, especially the roof, have been created with help from Ken Dehkes, director of Facilities Operations and Horticulture Services. Dehkes has a background in horticulture, landscape management and design.

“There was a multi-disciplined and team approach to the whole design,” he said. “We want to make sure the building is sustainable and maintainable for a long time.”

“One of the things that is so nice about this building is how much natural daylight there is,” Dehkes continued. “It’s just really neat. The openness and space are nice features.” Almost 75 per cent of the daylight throughout the building is natural. The building boasts solar panels and high performance glass and lighting.

“We had never had a green roof on campus before, so when it was proposed we knew we wanted to integrate as many sustainable features as we could,” Dehkes said.

They looked around at systems for growing plants. Dehkes said Hamline wanted to use local products, and with the significant transportation costs, did not want to have things delivered from some place 600 miles away.

“Bachman’s had distribution rights for a system that has been used three years called LiveRoof,” Dehkes explained. “The plants are pre-grown, delivered in plant trays and assembled on the roof.”

The plants were chosen for insulation, to absorb heat better and for storm water control. Instead of standard plant trays, four inches in depth, Bachman’s used a six-inch tray system, the first in the state.

Grasses, coneflowers and day lilies were chosen along with native grasses.

“We started propagating the plants into trays in August 2011,” Dehkes said. “The plants were grown through the fall and then placed in a greenhouse for the winter months.”

He said they were put together on the roof, somewhat like dominos or a jigsaw puzzle.

In May of this year the plant trays were lifted up by a crane to the University Center’s roof. “Doug from Bachmann’s and I worked with the roofing company, directing the placement of the plants,” Dehkes related.

The entire construction project for the Anderson Center, named in honor of its major donors, Carol and Dennis Anderson, took 16 months. “We broke ground on March 14, 2011,” Bromander said. A dedication is planned for Oct. 5 and an open house for Oct. 6.

“We’re very excited to have the front door of the Center open to Snelling Avenue,” Bromander said. “The Anderson Center is a connection point for us to the Midway community. The core sense of the building is about collaboration.”

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