An October 29 ribbon-cutting ceremony officially celebrated the opening of University Center, a significant new educational facility on the West Campus of Valencia Community College (VCC) designed by C.T. Hsu + Associates. The unique joint use facility is shared by VCC and the University of Central Florida and designed to meet the desire of students to achieve a four-year professional degree in a single location. University Center allows students to enroll at VCC, attend classes on the West Campus, and then transfer to UCF to complete their degree program requirements without having to relocate to UCF’s main campus.
The grand opening ceremony was attended by Florida Governor Charlie Crist who remarked, “Every day our students show us their commitment and determination to succeed. It is our responsibility to provide them with high-quality educational facilities such as this to support them as they strive to achieve their goals. We owe it to them, and we owe it to our communities. And, in times such as these, to deliver a facility like this on time and on budget is something that all of us in Tallahassee truly appreciate.”
From the outset, University Center was designed to maximize energy efficiency and integrate sustainable design concepts to serve as a tangible example of green building practices for the students and faculty of both institutions. A LEED Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council is anticipated for the facility, with final results expected in 2010.
Throughout the design process, CTH+A worked closely with staffs at VCC and UCF to identify sustainability goals and design features for the project. The most significant of these include:
In 2005, the firm adopted Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology to optimize document coordination, design projects in less time at less cost, and manage overall project costs in the construction stage. Recognizing that technology is only as good as the people who use it, CTH+A emphasizes the recruitment of tech-savvy professionals and ongoing staff training to continuously enhance the firm’s virtual design and construction capabilities. “University of Hsu” in-house educational programs train staff architects to use BIM software to generate multidisciplinary 3D models that integrate design and documentation plans, sections, details, elevations graphics and data.
For the University Center project, BIM technology also was used to integrate sustainable design concepts into the project through the use of sun path studies and daylight modeling analysis methods. In addition, this new way of producing documents facilitated quick responses to issues that arose during the construction phase, saving all of the project stakeholders valuable time and money.
This proficiency in the use of BIM as a project development and construction phase tool has placed CTH+A at the leading edge of architectural practice in the region.
This year, C.T. Hsu + Associates, P.A. is celebrating 25 years of providing outstanding architectural design solutions that support significant community-building efforts such as those embodied in the University Center project. From the beginning, C.T. Hsu and Tim McNicholas shared a vision for building an architecture firm that held fast to three guiding principles: service to clients, service to the profession and service to the community.
CTH+A design professionals are dedicated to realizing the full potential of every project by integrating architecture, planning, interior design and real estate research services to maximize value and quality. This philosophy includes giving equal consideration to buildings and public areas alike by consistently incorporating such elements as character, sense of place, artistic and historic heritage, and density throughout the firm’s work.