Questions of Perception

The experience of a building changes dramatically as you engage it from interior and exterior, from different approaches, at different times of day. During the design process, we anticipate as many of these instances as we can, and it is always fascinating to see them develop during construction. Two such moments have evolved at Fort Lewis College, where the addition to their student union is rapidly taking shape. In one instance (below, top), the link connection between the existing building and the addition is articulated with a corner window. The experience of this from interior to exterior opens the connection toward an important view back to the main campus quad and the mountains beyond. In another instance (below, bottom), the view of the building from the east and west is a dramatic scale shift. From the east, the building bridges from the main campus elevation down two stories to the Rim Road that circumnavigates the mesa, resulting in a three-story expression. From the west, the roof garden and a stair will cascade down the slope from the mezzanine terrace to an outdoor dining terrace and the main campus quad, resulting in a more diminutive one-story expression.

The multiplicity of experiences that an individual has while engaging a building is something that Perry Dean uses as a touchstone throughout the design process. In particular as practitioners focused on higher education, we find that working on a campus within a strong context of buildings and outdoor spaces, it is paramount to think through the multiple ways that a building engages its environment.