Construction underway on Arcadia University Commons designed by Kliment Halsband Architects

Just outside Philadelphia, a new project is underway at Arcadia University that will add new life to an older campus space. The university recently broke ground on for a new multi-million-dollar University Commons designed by New York City firm Kliment Halsband Architects. The project will add 50,000 square feet to the front of the Kuch Center Recreation and Athletic Center. Designed to be a center for student life, the three floors of the University Commons will provide views of the campus green as well as space for dining, student clubs and activities, meetings and conferences, art exhibits, and fitness.

Providing a new face and extension to the athletics center, the University Commons completes the grouping of buildings on the campus green, forming a link between historic Grey Towers Castle and Landman Library, whose new wing was also designed by Kliment Halsband Architects. Ninety-six geothermal wells under the green will provide the heating and cooling for the new building, and power the new cooling system for the gymnasium.

“The new University Commons is designed to be a living room for the campus, a gathering place, a dynamic, transparent, and welcoming space that facilitates informal interaction and provides a variety of experiences,” said Frances Halsband, FAIA, of Kliment Halsband Architects. “The project honors the objectives of Arcadia’s campus master plan by adding and infilling an existing building, creating a walking bridge to connect the many levels of the site, and designing a sustainable building that looks to the future.”

Changing from the dark grey native schist of Grey Towers Castle to lighter terra cotta and glass that relates to the materials of Landman Library, the long front facade of the Commons defines the eastern edge of the campus green. The distinctive curving silhouette of the roof extends the language of the curved façade of the Library and the curving forms of the Castle, as well as defining the interior spaces by separating commons rooms and public spaces facing east to the green from private and service spaces to the west. Clerestory windows along the west face of the wall bring daylight into the second floor spaces. A bridge linking Grey Towers Castle to the Commons and a balcony facing the green provide connections to the surrounding academic buildings and landscapes.

The Commons includes meeting rooms, lounges, and multipurpose spaces to accommodate groups of varying sizes.

The student activities area on the second floor is a space for club meetings and student organizations, with University staff offices nearby. A gallery for student and faculty artwork adjoins the main entrance and building lobby. A café and a separate espresso bar provide other opportunities to gather in the building.

The existing athletics and fitness facilities are being expanded to include new fitness and aerobics rooms.

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