Dickinson College: Central Energy Plant

Project Description

Dickinson College’s Central Energy Plant is an addition to an existing physical plant to accommodate new boiling and cooling towers. Spillman Farmer’s challenge was to respond to the client’s program and create an extension that respected the existing structure but was not dominated by it. The resulting building is a layered dance of brick and aluminum.

Awards

  • AIA Pennsylvania Award of Merit; 2007

Project Details

  • Client Dickinson College
  • Location Carlisle, PA View map
  • Sq. ft. 6,300
  • Completed 2007

Dickinson College’s program for the Central Energy Plant project was straightforward, with a goal of extending an existing 80,000-square-foot building to accommodate the boilers and cooling towers required to serve the campus’ energy requirements.

It was important that the addition, a 6,300-square-foot building (determined by the size of the equipment housed within), reveal the functionality of the building rather than conceal its operations. Spillman Farmer’s challenge was to respond…

Dickinson College’s program for the Central Energy Plant project was straightforward, with a goal of extending an existing 80,000-square-foot building to accommodate the boilers and cooling towers required to serve the campus’ energy requirements.

It was important that the addition, a 6,300-square-foot building (determined by the size of the equipment housed within), reveal the functionality of the building rather than conceal its operations. Spillman Farmer’s challenge was to respond to the client’s program and create an extension that respected the existing structure but was not dominated by it.

The Central Energy Plant is a layered dance of brick and aluminum. At the east elevation, a stair tower marks a subtle transition from the existing to the new; here, a full-height brick wall continues the mass of the original building. As the corner is turned, the brick is progressively subtracted until it becomes a low wall on the west elevation. In its place, continuing to define the space, is an aluminum veil that is perceived as both solid and sheer. Its solidity completes the block form and its sheerness allows views into the functional spaces (cooling towers) within. The interaction of the two materials gives the effect of movement from massiveness to lightness, evoking yin and yang through architectural form.

The horizontal layering also suggests the building’s vertical layering. The masonry wall envelops, but does not mask, the structural elements placed independently behind it. The aluminum veil is loosely hung on the structure. Throughout, the building shows clear evidence of how it is made, its materiality expressed and unadorned.

Award AIA Pennsylvania Award of Merit; 2007

Project Dickinson College: Central Energy Plant

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