The State University of New York (SUNY) Campus Commons addition in New Paltz is a centerpiece for the school’s audacious program. Designed by ikon.5 architects, the glass and metal ‘crystalline palisade’ was ‘grown’ on the plinth of an existing concrete building. The new construction is designed for LEED Silver certification, incorporating radiant heating and cooling, photo-optic lighting controls, and substantial natural day lighting and views.
The muted turquoise surface is made using a pure copper alloy, preweathered and patinated (the process of developing a patina on metal) using a proprietary process developed by Zahner. The process results in an insoluble protective patina on the copper panel’s surface, variegated and eccentric.
The patinated copper surface was chosen by the architects because of the color’s association to nature and how it complements the glass shard. Zahner provided the sheets to local fabricators to create the flat-lock seam. The architects were already working with a manufacturer to fabricate the metal panel system, so the Zahner team supplied pre-patinated flat copper sheet and had a local team produce the panel system.
Creating an Architectural Identity
The new design references the surrounding landscape of the Hudson River Valley and the Catskills. The building’s form was inspired by the nearby Shawangunk palisade, and its jade hue influenced by the Wallkill River’s muted blues.
The building also takes notes from the surrounding campus architecture. While the expanded student center stands in stark contrast to the neutral-toned concrete and brick buildings nearby, its angled roof continues the upward trajectory of an adjacent building’s ascending staircase. This attention to the building’s immediate context gives the new construction an integrated appeal, all-the-while maintaining its contemporary aesthetics.
The new building’s design has become a symbol for SUNY New Paltz, whose logo now incorporates the glass and metal pyramid. The exposed and triangulated framing underneath the glass zigzags across its fractal silhouette. Reflecting this exposed framing is the outdoor seating with its contemporary wireframe where students can enjoy the fresh air and sun while studying.