within and among departments. This was
accomplished through consideration of
numerous alternatives in many meetings
with representatives of the departments,
the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
(CLAS), Facilities, University Planning,
Design and Construction (UPDC) and the
So what defines this place? The Gant
complex is massive, rigid and orthogo-
nal. Wayfinding is confusing; the exist-
ing spaces are not comfortable for users
and visitors. The exterior envelope is
compromised. The building has exceed-
ed its useful life. How can such a facility
be reimagined? Successful adaptive reuse
projects are transformative, building on
a strong foundation and structure—lit-
erally as well as figuratively. Reinvention
must go back to basics. The key goal is to
turn the unfortunate into the excellent.
UConn and its design team began to ask
more specific questions:
• What does the facility lack?
• What level of science can the building
• How can the building be made more
functional and efficient?
• What are the priorities for redevelopment?
• How can wayfinding be improved?
• How can the renovated facility be
more inviting—a focal point for student
• How can a limited budget be applied
for maximum effect?
• How can redevelopment support the
master plan and academic vision goals?
Development of design ideas showcase
the collective spirit of the university’s
STEM initiatives physically, functionally and spiritually. Continuous dialogue
between conceptual ideas, contextual constraints and budget considerations shaped
the ultimate design concept. Central
themes began to emerge.
Give the building a focus—a heart. An
interior light court will be created at the
center of the complex. What was an exterior “donut hole” will now be enclosed. From
outside, the court will become a beacon of
light. Inside, it will be a student gathering
area and social hub which energizes the
Bring the outside in. Portions of the con-
necting links will be demolished to allow
pedestrian access, making the complex
more porous. Extensive floor-to-ceiling
glazing is introduced at the plaza level.
Punched openings in the solid walls at the
ends of the North and South wings will
bathe the interior corridors with much
Make science visible. Showcase new
teaching pedagogy at Physics scale-UP
labs in the plaza building. Display current
research. Provide green walls, if possible, in
the light court.
Gain usable area by reclaiming space.
Along the plaza level, capture sf by enclosing a colonnade along half of the building’s perimeter. Rescale excessively wide
corridors to reclaim space. Create gallery
breakout spaces outside the lecture halls.
Transform the architectural scale and alter
the perception of the outdated complex—
outside and inside.
Establish consistency in planning
and wayfinding. Provide continuity of
public spaces on each level. Celebrate
student study areas at multiple locations.
Make signage and wayfinding clear
Provide a new energy efficient envelope.
Numerous energy models of envelope
and mechanical systems options, along
with life cycle cost analysis of each, were
performed throughout the Schematic and
Design Development phases to maximize
Photo from ground floor, view of exterior “donut hole” (future Light Court). Image: S.J. Shea-Crabb, UConn