Salem College’s Student Center was recognized with a Community Appearance Award at a ceremony held in the James A. Gray Auditorium at the Old Salem Museums & Gardens Visitor Center on May 30, 2018.
The $6.8 million, 15,000-square-foot central hub for student activity was designed by LAMBERT Architecture + Interiors and constructed by Frank L. Blum Construction Company in partnership with the leadership of Salem Academy and College.
The Student Center, which was the first new building at Salem in 32 years, was given the Mayors Award by Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines. The Mayor’s Award recognizes new construction within the City of Winston-Salem that has both a visual and economic role in the revitalization of the downtown.
The Mayor’s Award was one of several awards presented by the Community Appearance Commission which sponsors a biennial awards program to honor the efforts of businesses, individuals, and community groups who have had a positive impact on the appearance of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. According to the Commission, “these awards recognize those individuals whose thoughtful design and maintenance of our built and natural environment play a significant role in creating the high quality of life we value in our community.”
The selection criteria for the Community Appearance Award are as follows:
- Contributes significantly to the improvement of community appearance;
- Exhibits a high standard of excellence in design;
- Preserves or restores desirable natural features of the site or area; and/or
- Develops a noteworthy process of community involvement, which has brought about an improvement in the character and appearance of the community.
The Student Center is a facility that fosters collaboration and community life. The two-story structure is complete with a bookstore, a café with a small performance stage, a 90-seat theater, a student lounge, meeting rooms, a student organizational workroom, student mailboxes, and abundant light.
The building’s design, however, was a challenge, according to Drew Hancock, President of Frank L. Blum Construction Company, who described the project as a “ship in a bottle” which had to be “dropped” among the existing structures as though it has been there for decades.
The modern, open space was outfitted with classic details that reflect the campus’ nearly 250-year legacy. Several historical pieces are used throughout the building, including a refurbished chandelier discovered in the attic of Main Hall, café benches, and student work tables from the Shop of William and Edward Peterson, which once stood on the corner of Old Salem and Academy streets. The oldest piece on campus, a blue-painted cupboard, or “schrank,” was dated between 1780 and 1795 and is attributed to Johannes Krause.
Other pieces have been updated with new wood table tops made from two trees that were felled during construction. Many of these pieces date from the mid to late 19th century and have previously been used elsewhere on campus. In the bookstore, a wall mural designed by Carrie Leigh Dickey, class of 2000, details Salem’s rich history as the oldest continually operating educational institution for women in this country. In the atrium, a commissioned woodcut print by well-known artist Mona Wu, class of 1996, graces the fireplace mantle.
The grounds immediately outside of the Student Center provide generous outdoor gathering space. A plaza, located immediately outside of the café, provides expanded outdoor living space with tables and umbrellas. The area leading to the Student Center features a brick walkway, stone wall benches, replica gateway columns, lush landscaping, and a revived lily pond that was a gift from the class of 1928. Exiting the Student Center on the lower level, a terrace with a fire pit and water feature will provide students a gathering place and a walkway that literally connects the upper and lower campuses for the first time.
The Student Center project also received a Silver Certification in the LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) green building certification system published by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). This voluntary guideline awards points for strategies in different categories including Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Interior Environmental Quality, and Innovation in Design.