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A. Alfred Taubman Wing, University of Michigan by Preston Scott Cohen, Inc.
December 4th, 2017 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: Preston Scott Cohen, Inc.
The principal goal of the new Taubman Building is to create a new center for the school, a space called the commons, which will enable new forms of collaboration between faculty, staff and students and between the Architecture and Planning programs.
Among the most important and interesting challenges was a twofold demand: on the one hand, to create a 36,000 ft2 building that would stretch from the existing architecture /planning wing of the college all the way to Bonisteel Blvd and on the other hand, to make this building that is on the eastern end of the existing building act as if it is in the center of the school, in order that it will serve as the nexus of circulation for all students and faculty. In short, the goal was to establish a center within a linear edge building.
In order to make the square footage of the three story building stretch as far as it needed to, half of the ground floor was evacuated, which created an outdoor experimental gallery for student projects. Lifting the commons off the ground this way solved several other problems; it permitted the courtyard between the existing and new buildings to remain open to the valley and retention pond to the east, allowed the new building to create a path through – between the existing and the new -, and it established an ascending and continuous sequence of interior spaces.
In contrast to the low slung two story existing Art program’s wing on Bonisteel, the new building articulates a striking silhouette, by virtue of its taller three story height, its sawtooth roof, and its skewed angle on the site which permits its corner to stick out past the art wing. The plan of the building on the site has the added advantage of creating a forced perspective-like spatial effect, which funnels people in and points them toward the courtyard entrance to the existing building.
It is less an object building than a means to make space and a sequence through the campus. The courtyard is not enclosed, but is certainly more definitively captured and active than ever before.
The commons is composed of two pairs of ramps linked by a spiral-like suspended stair. The solid parts of the railings are kept low to enable viewing of the central space from afar and to articulate a remarkable scale effect.
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