Windward Commons is a true live-learn community and the first suite-style student housing building on the Armstrong Atlantic State University (AASU) campus. The community is comprised of two, four-story wing residence hall and home for 569 students.
The unit plans are common two private bedroom/one bath suite with a unique two person semiprivate suite arrangement which was recommended by the housing director, then researched and implemented by the entire design team. In a building of suites, common areas become extremely important. Each floor contains study areas and community TV rooms to draw the students out of their bedrooms and promote social interaction. The 176,543-sq.-ft. facility incorporates high-tech classrooms, music practice rooms, community kitchens and laundry facilities.
The most striking interior feature is the continuous Venetian plaster barrel vault extending from the entrance lobby through to the game room. These spaces incorporate indirect lighting from light coves that create a glow across the barrel vault. The lobby features an inlaid marble compass rose on the floor. The game room doubles as a media room with black-out shades and a computer modeled high-tech audio/video system.
The exterior utilizes red brick which is seen throughout the AASU campus. In order to reduce the apparent scale of the four story building, Windward Commons is three stories of red brick with a lighter beige brick at the 4th floor. The façade incorporates precast sills and lintels as well as precast parapets at the gable ends to honor typical detailing across campus. Window walls interrupt brick at the study areas and TV rooms to bring maximum natural light into these areas and also provide columns of light on the exterior at night. The downspouts transition from white at the 4th floor to bronze at the lower floors to blend with the copper detaining of the older campus structures.
Windward Commons was a new type of architecture introduced to the AASU campus. This new architecture successfully takes the vernacular of the campus style and creates a new expression that is to be the face of student housing for many years to come.
Windward Commons completed well under budget, allowing an additional pedestrian walkway to be constructed in front of the residence hall. The walkway leads students from the housing facility to the resident parking lot and doubles as a fire lane for emergency access.
Many green elements were incorporated into the project, including natural light throughout the building, a fresh air handling system, motion and light sensor electrical controls and building management control systems that allow maintenance personnel to monitor and control the temperatures in each room.