Opened in Fall 2010, Ackerman Hall is a 4-story 303-bed student live-learn facility constructed in the heart of the Western Oregon University campus. The building was sited in a campus green space known as “the Grove”. The Grove had been designed with berms around the perimeter and heavily planted with trees which were approaching 40 years old. Rather than a welcoming people space, the Grove had become a barrier and a lifeless zone in the core of the campus. By locating the building in the middle of the Grove, the architect sought to create an activity area that would create better linkages to other areas of the campus. The building was carefully sited to retain a few select trees from the site. Other trees were milled into paneling to be used inside the building and for furniture. The U-shaped building encompasses a central courtyard that opens to the north and terminates a future residential corridor of the campus. The front of the building faces the remaining portion of the Grove which features a great lawn where graduation ceremonies and other activities take place. The courtyard includes a storm water harvesting system as its main feature. It follows a main pedestrian thoroughfare. The arching concrete water quality channel is filled with colorful foliage and conveys stormwater to a large storm detention basin. From this system storm water is harvested and stored in an underground tank below. Water from this system is used to supplement the potable water in the building. A steel bridge connects the walkway to a plaza paved with recycled glass. The paving system is porous, allowing storm water to infiltrate into the soil. The paver system is also porous with gaps between the stones to facilitate water infiltration. The landscape architect worked together with San Francisco artist Anna Valentina Murch to incorporate a carved granite bubbler at the head of the water channel and stainless steel spiral shapes imbedded into porous glass paving designed to evoke images of raindrops. In a driving rain the roof runoff gushes into the channel through three large scuppers. In a light rain the water bubbles gently over the carved granite art piece and drops into the storm conveyance channel.
Location: Monmouth, Oregon
Owner: Western Oregon State University
Architect: Mahlum Architects