Oglethorpe University Gains Innovative Student Center Designed by Cooper Carry

When the Fall semester began, science and business students at Oglethorpe University attended classes in the newly completed I.W. “Ike” Cousins Center for Science and Innovation (formerly Goslin Hall). Located on the historic quadrangle of the campus, the original, three-story modernist building was transformed into a union of contemporary innovative architecture and a reflection of the authentically crafted Collegiate Gothic buildings on campus. The new center now houses laboratory classrooms and spaces for interactive study across disciplines as well as the university’s newly established Q. William Hammack Jr. School of Business.

Cooper Carry led the design for the nearly 50-year-old building’s exterior and interior renovations as well as its 25,000-square-foot addition, a U-shaped structure wrapping three sides of the original 1971 hall. This approach not only limited the waste of demolition by reusing the existing structure, but also preserves available land on campus for future growth. The redesigned Cousins Center incorporates modern elements such as extensive glass walls to let in light and provide expansive views, multiple new entryways that connect pedestrians from all corners of campus and enhanced accessibility.

To create a design that blends the historic with the new, Cooper Carry’s design team translated historic proportions for roof slopes, stone detailing, and windows after analyzing the original hand-drawn blueprints for Lupton Hall, the second oldest building on campus, which have been preserved by the Atlanta History Center. Many of the innovative contemporary elements such as curtain wall, metal panels and roof overhangs were based on the fundamental proportions of the historic documents discovered by the design team. In addition, slate roofing tiles, granite walls and precast concrete detailing echo the campus’ dominant Collegiate Gothic architecture, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The exterior stone from the original building was also preserved and repurposed as interior walls after the addition was built around it.

“As a new central hub for the campus, the science and business schools provide a unified environment to spark creativity and encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration. This focus on communal innovation and collaboration was a critical component of the design,” said Brian Campa, principal at Cooper Carry. “By opening up the old spaces and creating interconnected environments, the Cousins Center puts learning and collaboration on display, capitalizing on the building location to create an important crossroads for students at the heart of the campus.”

The design team recognized the importance of providing ample daylight to maximize energy efficiency, save costs and improve the student experience. According to a 2018 report by Urban Land Institute, exposure to daylight and access to windows have been linked to better productivity during the day and better sleep at night, as well as improved mood and cognitive function, less sleepiness, lower blood pressure and increased physical activity. Natural light carries throughout the center with glass walls dividing classrooms and interior hallways, also benefitting interdisciplinary communication and interaction.

Inside the center, updated laboratories facilitate active learning with state-of-the-art technology. A new space called “The Garage” features a stage and tiered bleacher seating for events as well as an industrial garage door, which opens to a quad-level outdoor terrace. The operable garage door blends the indoor and outdoor realms, providing another area for students to gather with peers or find pause in nature. Upstairs, a loft space serves as a new incubation lab where students can develop startups or create products, with reservable meeting rooms, teaming furniture and technology for collaboration.

“As our university grows and evolves to meet the demands of the 21st century, we want to provide Oglethorpe’s next generation with the tools to develop dynamic, forward-thinking ideas,” said Oglethorpe University President Larry Schall. “The reimagined Cousins Center is now a place where the Oglethorpe community can meaningfully interact in creative spaces that deepen learning and foster success for the next 50 years.”

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