SHoP Architects designs multi-purpose facility for veterans at Syracuse University



“Many of our veterans are challenged upon their return and we wanted to create this as a fully shared experience,” says Christopher Sharples, founding director of the company, noting that the building now serves as an important physical and social link between the university environment and the urban landscape, as well as military and civilian life.

Imbued with civic duty, the four-story structure provides a spatial experience that seems democratic to all users thanks to the location of its monumental block-scale base in the shallow depth of a hill on which it sits. find the campus. The ground floor and the first floor seem to merge on the outside with a major corner junction of the city where a change in elevation marks the transition from the urban fabric to the campus. Inside, a series of subtle program changes and sloping floors soften this physical transition to make circulation almost seamless while equating academic areas with public space.

Courtesy of the store architects

Accessibility is essential in the social transition of veterans and the architecture is empathetic. Comfort and ease of use are celebrated by ADA requirements that become significant architectural features like the lower level ramp walk that surrounds the building’s public core – a 750-seat, multi-story auditorium.

The auditorium is surrounded by an exhibition space with a visual gravity that draws people in. Interior walls rise like an undulating wave of Douglas Fir panels on the railing system while a two-story glazed curtain wall eliminates the threshold between exterior and interior. A generous courtyard at the entrance proper slips under the glass exterior creating a surf from the street below the glass roof.

Interior view of an auditorium
Courtesy of the store architects

The highest mass and the top floor of the NVRC contrast with those below in terms of programming, materiality and access. Angular aluminum fins protruding 10, 12, 14, or 16 inches from a reflective glass curtain wall create an atmospheric mirror, taking advantage of Syracuse’s unique gray sky, protecting a ring of offices and private spaces. Rooms and those with access have a view of the city and campus to the outside, as well as the rooftop parade ground inside.

“It’s here that [military students and veterans alike] can go have intimate celebrations, ”says William Sharples, another founding director of the company. “They saw it as a deep gift in terms of how the project speaks to them.”


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