One of the best aspects of practicing architecture is that our education never ends. And on top of that, our classroom comes in many forms — from city sidewalks to the job site beside carpenters to the computer screen at our desks. So when Margarette Leite’s PSU Building Technology class approached us for a class tour of the PCC Cascade Student Center and Academic Building, we jumped at the opportunity. Not only are we excited about how the project is unfolding, but to be able to share it as a learning tool for architecture students is an extra perk.
PSU’s Building Technology class is one of a three part series that aims to introduce students to technologies of design and building construction. The tour was led by Jacob McKay and Derrick Beneville of PCC Cascade Campus Bond Program contractors, Hoffman Construction. With their construction expertise, and THA’s Nick Hodges and me, we discussed how to turn our design concept of sliding panels and shifting volumes into a built form.
The construction schedule at PCC Cascade posed a perfect classroom setting for building construction technologies. Construction began in 2012 with the underground parking garage. On top of the garage sits the Academic Building, Student Center, and connecting plaza. Construction on the Academic Building and Student Center is scheduled such that when a trade is completed at the Academic Building, they transition immediately to the Student Center.
At the Student Center, students saw the design concept expressed in the raw form of a structural shell with the beginnings of the exterior expression through the nearly completed curtainwall installation. Here, we identified the various structural strategies employed in our buildings. Students correctly identified components of the lateral load systems, gravity load systems and various steel connections. From there, we moved to the Academic Building where the exterior composition is further visible with the curtainwall, metal and brick panels installed. Moving to the inside, students could see how the composition of the exterior panels translates to the interior shifting volumes. With the added layers of interior finishes and internal building infrastructures the various space making concepts started to be more apparent. The tour ended in the underground garage which spans the entire 200’ x 360’ site. In the underground garage, students stood underneath the post tension deck which serves as the garage lid and the first floor slab supports of the Academic Building and Student Center.