The ACI Boland Learn Studio recently began working with Lindenwood University to help them enhance the look and feel of their campus. With two diverse projects in the works, we wanted to see how the approach to each effort differs and what stays consistent.
Below, you’ll find our interview with Holly Thompson, Interior Designer and Tyler Middendorf, Architect. Holly is working on the University’s new fitness center, while Tyler is creating concepts for a new entryway. Learn more about their process below and discover how each will reinforce Lindenwood University’s brand.
TELL ME ABOUT THE PROJECT YOU’RE WORKING ON WITH LINDENWOOD UNIVERSITY.
Holly: I’m working with Lindenwood University on an update to the Evans Commons Fitness Center. This project includes a refresh of the existing Campus Recreation Fitness Center. We are working to brighten and update the space and incorporate more of the University’s distinct brand.
Tyler: I’ve been working with Lindenwood to generate design options for one of their campus entries. In our concepts, we’ve focused on incorporating some of the best architectural elements from the campus to make an entry that feels uniquely “Lindenwood.” In addition to enhancing the aesthetic, we’ve also proposed some site improvements to the safety and usability of the intersection.
WHAT ARE THE CLIENT’S GOALS FOR EACH SPACE? WHAT PROBLEMS WILL THIS DESIGN SOLVE OR HOW DOES IT IMPROVE THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE?
Holly: In improving the space, the University had a number of goals. They wanted to add new, modern finishes that can hold up to the wear and tear of a very active student body. They were also focused on improving the equipment and increasing their brand’s presence. One new element is the addition of a Cross-Fit style workout space. These kinds of workouts can be very hard on adjacent surfaces, so we’ve worked to select the right finishes for this new area. Providing a new fresh space for students encourages more frequent visits. These kinds of improvements enhance the student experience and make the University more attractive to potential students.
Tyler: Currently, there is no Lindenwood signage or other features signifying that you are entering their campus at this entrance. The university wants people to know that the University is here and to reinforce a strong sense of place.
HOW ARE YOU HELPING LINDENWOOD UNIVERSITY ACHIEVE THOSE GOALS WITH THE DESIGN?
Holly: We started this project by doing a site visit with Lindenwood University. In seeing the space, we suggested some ideas based on their goals. I knew they wanted more branding and that they were looking for clean and modern look. I also reviewed their brand standards and used their graphics package as inspiration. The existing space has a few accent colors that aren’t in alignment with their brand identity. I removed those from the space and concentrated on incorporating their signature gold and black. In addition, I met with consultants to better select the right finishes for the various types of activities being performed. All of these elements helped to determine the final specs.
Tyler: Much like Holly, we started this project with a conversation. We visited with the client to discuss their goals and vision. This allowed us to better understand the types of traffic that the gateway will handle and to gather insights on the known challenges of the entry. We also walked the entire campus to better understand its architectural vernacular. We’re aiming to capture the best of the campus and highlight that right when you come in the front door.
TELL ME ABOUT SOME OF THE DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS FOR EACH SPACE. HOW ARE THEY SIMILAR?
Holly: The branding is the most common design element in both. Lindenwood has looked at other local universities and seen how they have taken their campus identity to a whole new level with the branding. You see this in merchandise, interior spaces, etc. They want to increase their presence tenfold. In terms of how
Tyler: Some of the needs of this project are at odds with each other. We want to create something monumental that still feels approachable, and we want to hone down the entryway, while still allowing for delivery trucks and coach buses. We’re paying special attention to scale, materials, and different types of movement.
HOW DOES THIS SPACE RELATE BACK TO THE OVERALL LOOK AND FEEL OF THE CAMPUS?
Holly: They are a departure from the overall look of campus that has an ivy league feel in a smaller campus setting. Brick and stone traditional buildings are the standard here. However, the Fitness Center is located in a more contemporary interior. It needed to work with the current adjacent spaces, so we used the University’s brand to relate the design back to the rest of the more traditional campus.
Tyler: Currently, the campus entry does not reflect the look and feel of the campus at all. Our goal is to draw inspiration from the timeless architecture of the campus and to create an entryway that feels more like Lindenwood.
WHEN WORKING ON TWO SEPARATE SPACES FOR THE SAME CLIENT, HOW DO YOU COLLABORATE WITH ONE ANOTHER? WHAT DOES THIS PROCESS LOOK LIKE FOR THE CLIENT?
For the client, I always give an extensive presentation with renderings, samples, concept images to get us the approval on design intent. From there, I move into the details preparing packages that guide them in their furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E), lighting, and branding/signage selections. My biggest goal is always to communicate exactly what they are getting and how each piece of the project puzzle fits together. I want it to be easy for them to understand every item for the project and how it flows into the schedule.
Tyler: Holly started work on the Fitness Center before we were selected for the entry way project. While the actual design process for the two efforts has not had a great deal of cross over, we have been able to better understand the client’s workstyle and the processes of the campus. More experience with any given client allows us to better shape our work to meet their needs.
WHAT EXCITES YOU THE MOST ABOUT THIS PROJECT?
Holly: I enjoyed getting to do what I do best, and that is to create a brand and style identity through interiors. Every design element, every piece of furniture or artwork installation says “This is the client, and this is what they represent.”
Tyler: I am most excited by this project’s opportunity for improvement. We have the chance to create something lasting and iconic that will significantly improve the experience of campus users and to reinforce a strong sense of place for decades to come. By improving the site around the gateway, we can make the campus’s interface with the city safer and more enjoyable.