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Award-winning Wesleyan University Restoration Designed in ARCHICAD

Boston, November 13, 2007 - Boston-based Robert Olson + Associates recently won an AIA New England 2007 Design Excellence Award for a project that restores and links Wesleyan University's two hallmark buildings, the Memorial Chapel and Patricelli '92 Theater.

The $22 million project rejuvenated and modernized the deteriorated historic buildings and integrated them with a new transparent pavilion uniting the two gothic buildings. The pavilion entry unites the structures to create a center for theater, music, worship and teaching at the historic center core of the campus. As the AIA jury described it, "It is restrained but elegant, very appropriately scaled, very handsome. The sum is greater than the parts and makes the trio of buildings much stronger."


Photography: Anton Grassl/Esto

Robert Olson + Associates used Graphisoft's ARCHICAD to design and facilitate construction of the project. According to the firm, ARCHICAD's modeling capabilities were key to design of the Pavilion, especially the custom glass curtain wall, sun studies for the form of the transparent building, and the use of transparency to maintain views.  Modeling was also essential to the architectural design of modern interventions within the Chapel interior. The project was in effect three connected buildings, and ARCHICAD Teamwork was essential for developing a coordinated set of drawings. Architects also employed digital photogrammetry of the stone facades and brought that data into ARCHICAD to serve as the basis for defining the scope of stone restoration, which was done stone by stone.

The new Pavilion also houses building systems for both of the historic buildings and an accessible path from the campus to all levels of both buildings. Locating all systems and audience services outside the historic buildings enabled excellent interior performance spaces. Glass as the primary building material enabled a consistent contrast with the historic structures. It also displayed - in ways historic buildings cannot - the center's activities: audiences, exhibitions and campus events.

The AIA Awards program recognizes design excellence by New England architects. The award winners were announced, and their projects featured, at the AIA New England Annual Conference in New Canaan, Conn., earlier this month.