The project began with graphic analysis of juxtaposed imagery that included 1) the human body in active recreation, 2) STEM designs, 3) the University’s brand + architecture, and 4) icons of Lakeland / Central Florida. A commonly repeated anthropomorphic gesture of outstretched arms implied the idea of “wings”. Wings became a prevailing form found in the Phoenix (Florida Poly’s Mascot), the Swan (Lakeland’s iconic citizens), and examples of applied STEM (aircraft, spacecraft, drones). The design team architecturalized these inspirational forms through the lens of origami, a tradition of making (with icons of paper cranes and airplanes) with geometry, mathematics, and technical exactness that emulates the University’s mission.
With an architectural program directly linked to the student body, the Student Development Center successfully reflects the dynamic student culture that recently played an active role in the selection and development process of the university’s mascot. Imagery and connotations of the phoenix are not only emblematic of the university’s research-focused scholastic vision, but also metaphorically symbolize the building’s focus on health and wellness. Exercise activities initiate a phoenix-like “regeneration and renewal” through personal physical fitness during periodic intermissions of academic endeavors.
early CONCEPTUAL PLAN SKETCHES
The building’s form leverages an opportunity to promote institutional brand awareness through a contemporary gesture of architecture parlante, or “speaking architecture”. With a site location on campus with high visibility from an adjacent highway, the building design serves as an outward physical display of school spirit to the greater Central Florida community. Additionally, the University commissioned a large photographic collage installed in the reception lobby by Tim Hoeft, AIA (design architect) that depicts imagery of the activity the facility supports, the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) academics the university promotes, and the geometry intrinsic to both the building’s architecture and the institution’s logo and mascot.