Since their inception, the engineering programs at Hope College have experienced consistent growth. Due to this sustained expansion, many of the courses and labs have been held in spaces converted from other programs within VanderWerf Hall.
This project provided new lab opportunities for engineering staff and students in spaces designed to support Hope College’s engineering curriculum, including both specialized research labs and instruction labs. The feature space for this project was a 3,500-sf flexible design lab space located on the first floor for senior and special projects. Flexibility of space and support systems was a fundamental aspect of this lab. Small group and informal meeting space was provided to stimulate interaction. The lab was designed to support electronics, chemical, and general mechanical research; and also house a fabrication area and wind tunnel. The 2-story space volumes were provided to allow for vertical experiment set-ups and allow observation from the second floor.
Another critical success factor of the project was to provide identity for the engineering program. The design addressed this goal from both the exterior and interior of the facility. The 2-story volume design lab was positioned to be visible through a 2-story curtain wall from the exterior of the facility. Activities and digital imagery capture the attention of the passersby. An abundance of glass was also planned inside to allow visibility into lab spaces from the adjacent corridors.
The exterior appearance of the addition was designed to be consistent with the existing VanderWerf Hall. Use of matching masonry and glazing systems as well as matching the façade height were the primary elements to develop continuity with the existing facility. Within this framework, the addition was set apart by accentuating the vertical space of the design lab with the large expanse of curtain wall. Engineering was expressed through the use of large span trusses at the west face of the second floor and the cross-bracing structural details laterally stabilizing the structure. Mechanical and electrical systems in the labs were also intended to be visible.