Svigals + Partners Creates Community Environment for Today’s University Students

Photo: Halkin Mason Photography.

NEW HAVEN, Conn.– The architecture, art and advisory firm Svigals + Partners has announced the completed renovation of Quinnipiac University’s growing Center for Communications and Engineering (CCE) in Hamden, Conn.

Originally designed as a law library and later converted into student classrooms, labs, makerspaces, lounges, and study areas, the centrally located campus facility had become dated with dark and inefficient work zones. Working within a modest project area of 7,700 square feet, Svigals + Partners transformed key spaces within the 1995 structure, including a three-story atrium, into modern and enjoyable learning and interaction areas. Aligning the space with Quinnipiac University’s forward-thinking approach to education and career development, the design team introduced studying and socializing zones, huddle rooms, and redesigned classrooms and a computer lab. These inviting and technologically advanced spaces showcase student accomplishments and become a highlight of tours for visitors and prospective students.

In the student lounge’s meeting and gathering area, the renovation focused on adding collaborative offerings while maximizing available daylight and openness. Six new huddle rooms set at the back of the main open area offer moveable tables and chairs for four-to-six occupants set inside sleek transparent enclosures with linear pendant lighting fixtures. Nearby, two new double-height study areas and two enclosed makerspaces draw students past two grand staircases flanking the triple-height space for socializing and small group work.

“The redesigned student lounge turns an underutilized gathering area into a prime meeting place designed for interdisciplinary teamwork and connectivity,” says architect Christopher Bockstael, AIA, partner of Svigals + Partners. “Each of the collaborative settings draws students and visitors in to pause, stay and engage.”

The design team reorganized exposed mechanical systems, highlighting the visible underside of the ceiling deck and ductwork with clean finishes resulting in a modern industrial aesthetic. A large display monitor that presents school news and achievements is mounted on panel wrapped in perforated metal with acoustical felt backing for sound-absorption. Adjacent is a new custom display case showcasing student accomplishments.

Student lounge visitors benefit from copious daylight and complementary lighting systems for ambient and direct task lighting. The illumination design also establishes a sense of hierarchy for the casual zones and study areas, with the main section also brightened by sunlight from the building’s original, semicircular glazed facades.

“These flexible environments for the engineering and communications students and faculty foster a deep sense of community,” says Bockstael, who has worked on higher education facilities and laboratory projects across the region. “Showcasing student work in the makerspaces, labs, and across disciplines encourages the student body to visit the lounge and see what’s being done, inspiring more productive collaboration and innovation at the CCE.”

Adding to that sense of sharing and recognition, the design team installed wall-mounted monitors that show activities inside the lab rooms located off either of two corridors. These displays encourage both CCE students and curious visitors to venture toward additional updated study areas, display cases, a classroom, and computer room at the building’s west end.

In this area, a newly modernized and redesigned classroom has shifted from its former, lecture-style layout. Instead, Svigals + Partners reinforces Quinnipiac University’s student teamwork approach by centering the room with six large tables, moveable chairs, and monitors at each work area. A large wall graphic at the back of the classroom adds visual interest and a university-branded touch, and an overhead skylight brings in natural daylight. Two more gathering areas adjacent to the classroom include an open lounge area with casual lounge seating, a video monitor and display cases, plus an enclosed study room furnished with tables, chairs, and monitors. Nearby, the design team also updated an enclosed computer lab.

“Our ongoing communications with Quinnipiac’s skilled facilities team and with BVH, our engineering partners, helped drive the project forward in timely ways, despite a tight timeline challenged by extended lead times for materials and construction,” says April Gaddis, an architectural designer and associate with Svigals + Partners. “It’s exciting to know the school’s incoming fall class will be greeted by these completely renovated, modern spaces that will support their studies, teamwork and future careers.”