Catalyzed by a renovation study commissioned by the Carnegie Mellon University, the Mellon Institute Habitat addresses challenges specific to the Institute and the College of Science housed within. The study determined that the vast majority of campus traffic was entering the building through an existing loading dock, providing an foreboding, industrial, and compartmentalized entryway that did not foster interaction nor speak to the science being done in the building.
The greater structure of Mellon Institute is built around four interior courtyards that provide light wells into the four quadrants of the building. In developing the Habitat, it was paramount that some of that natural daylight be captured in a space fostering human interaction. The resulting gathering space speaks to the open and collaborative nature of the research done in the College of Science, as well as a thoughtful treatment of a main thoroughfare and entrance.
Many materials and forms shape the newly-open space. An expansive dark ocean blue glass wall wraps around the front of the room and out into the corridor, establishing a focal point within the room in addition to a functional writing surface. LED-illuminated white-board sleeves envelop existing brick columns in the corridor and help serve as beacons within the quadrant. The bright furniture creates pops of color that emphasize a harmonious contrast with the white walls and ceiling. Historic mailboxes that had been in the existing space were incorporated and showcased within a rear mail wall.
Serving as a node of expression, connection, and growth, the Habitat is an inviting destination that cultivates vital social experiences among like-minded people. The space serves as a neutral ground that fosters and facilitates knowledge exchanges in a fun, playful, and light environment. The broad compartmentalization of Mellon Institute necessitates a common oasis that helps to unify its occupants.