Friday April 28, 2023

Clemson University Douthit Hills Hub

At 118,000 square feet, the Hub is the centrally-located heart of student life for the Clemson University Douthit Hills Development, a new residential precinct with 1,666 beds in seven buildings housing incoming first-year and enticing upper-class students to stay on campus.

The organizing feature of the precinct is an axial pedestrian spine which aligns with the historic campus landmark tower of Tillman Hall and continues through the Hub’s central light well. The Douthit Hills development also stretches east-west along a major vehicular entry artery along its southern edge, SC 93. The Hub sits in welcome at prime campus gateway. The east and west elevations address the campus pedestrian axis, along which are the main entries. The south elevation along Route 93 is conceived as a monumental glass and steel portico supporting solar shading. The building’s site orientation allows building support, vehicular access, and service functions to be hidden on the north side.

From the beginning, the design team’s approach was to arrange the complex requirements of the program in a volumetrically clear and compelling way. The campus spine brings pedestrians into the Hub’s central, open-air light well. Surrounded by student activity and connected by the primary vertical circulation, the light well serves as the principal reference point for entrance and wayfinding within a symmetrical plan. A switchback stairwell is arranged so that visitors re-orient themselves towards the central light well as they arrive at each level. This configuration and the transparent exterior foster a sense of community, connectivity, and casual encounters for students and visitors to the campus.

The ground floor retail level contains a Starbucks, a convenience store, a Freshens, the campus Barnes & Noble bookstore, and campus police substation. The second floor houses a satellite campus wellness center. The third floor is a major 450 seat dining hall whose spatial arrangement and interior architecture support three distinctive “micro-restaurants.” The basement level contains a receiving area for service vehicles and a central utility plant that supports all eight buildings in the Douthit Hills development.
Sustainability was a focus and the Hub achieved LEED Silver certification supported by master site credits that also applied to the separately certified housing precincts. Sustainable strategies included water use reduction, optimized energy performance, construction waste management, regional and recycled content containing materials, and low emitting materials. The entire project benefits from the efficiencies of the central plant.

In all, the building makes a contemporary architectural statement with its exposed and reinforced concrete frame, expansive use of high-performance glass, steel and painted metal accents. The entrance, feature stair, and circulation cores are painted orange as a highly visible nod to school spirit. Exposed ductwork in areas like the recreation center and the dining hall create fun, contemporary spaces befitting of a program geared primarily to student life.

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