The inspired urban campus.
Project Profile: Monroe Community College
After nearly a century of service, the early modernist edifice that was Eastman Kodak's “Factory Number 9 Building" would find new life as a vibrant college campus. Seven floors of twentieth-century business history would undergo a transformation to become a state-of-the-art, twenty-first century urban campus.
Monroe Community College (MCC)
Ranked in the top three percent of its peers, MCC sets a high standard among the nation's community colleges. It's exceptional academic success has led to ongoing recognition on the national stage. MCC was founded in 1962 and opened its first city campus in downtown Rochester in 1992 which provided valuable educational opportunity and access for students in the urban environment. That success led to the vision for a larger urban campus designed for today's students...
CLIENT: Monroe Community College
WHERE: Rochester, NY
Procurement Management: DASNY
Interior Design: Heather DeMoras Design Consultants
A unified vision.
MCC's Downtown Campus was to provide a full college experience in its unique city-setting. The ambitious project was driven by a thoroughly collaborative engagement that involved students, faculty, employees, county staff and project partners.
“The design process was driven by intentionality," explains Dr. Joel Frater, Executive Dean. “we listened to the voice of the consumer, our students, to ensure we built capacity for their ideas to blossom."
The resulting campus really is inspired. The main entry reveals a bright public space featuring a main stairway which serves the first three floors of the campus. Wood, metal and glass finishes combine with a warm color palette and sophisticated lighting to create a welcoming space that leaves one wanting more. It's a clean, contemporary design that promises a rich experience.
MCC's tagline is a meaning-packed three-word phrase that captures everything the college is and does. The downtown campus offered an exciting opportunity — it was a clean slate on which the inspiring new brand could come to life in every detail.
“The new Downtown Campus was the first complete integration of our brand standards since their development," said Dr. Frater “The campus became a living experience of our brand that resonates with our students and community on many levels."
In collaboration with Heather DeMoras Design Consultants, we set out to create an experience that would provide a sense of place, inspire accomplishment, and meet day-to-day practical needs.
First impressions are important, so expectations are set high starting at the main entrance — students are shown that MCC takes them and their future seriously. With that in mind, the main lobby reception area greets students and visitors with an elegant dimensional logo treatment backed by a rich wood finish. The design provides an understated sense of arrival and sets a tone of academic excellence.
“We toured the campus several times during construction. It was not until the graphics and signage went up that it felt like home… our home… until then it was just a building." stated Irving R. Williamson, SEGA, First-Year Experience, Peer Leader
Just beyond the reception area, the wall adjacent to the main stair case provides the ideal space to create the primary brand experience.
“This main corridor was the perfect place to showcase MCC's brand. It was an exciting opportunity to bring the “Inspiring Every Day." tagline to life. We used a variation of the graphic “honeycomb" pattern, as defined by MCC's brand standards, to frame a full range of inspiring images. We developed an intricate, layered design that suggests the depth of the MCC experience." explains Liz Bailey, EDAC, Corporate Branding Associate, Takeform.
As an added benefit, this installation provided more than brand expression — it included an updatable directory, event poster holders and well as two bulletin boards for postings.
The brand theme extended to all seven elevator corridors. At each level, visitors are greeted by graphic panel installations that extend the "inspiring" brand concept through a floor-specific theme. Images were curated to represent a unique inspirational concept. For instance, on the first floor, images of iconic Rochester architecture portray the city's proud history and accomplishments. Similarly, the fourth floor pays homage to George Eastman and captures students' imaginations with Eastman's inspiring success. Beyond brand expression, these installations play an important secondary role as navigation landmarks.
“It's evident that the wayfinding system clearly took visual learning into account by using specific community-focused imagery to differentiate and identify floors," observes Dr. Frater.
Other brand experiences were designed into the space at key gathering and transition points. Outside the main presentation hall, the Rochester City Skyline conveys community connection as it spans the space between the two auditorium entrances. And nearby, positioned above the main staircase, is a subtle-yet-prominent, white-on-white brand statement which tastefully complements the surrounding finishes.
Creating a Sense of Place.
Dimensional lettering was designed to play an important role in the working environments. On each floor, flexible work areas were integrated into the common spaces. These inviting spaces were given a true sense of place with the addition of the name “Collaboratory" and floor number set in satin silver dimensional letters.
The room signage and wayfinding system provided additional opportunities to convey brand while playing a critical role in navigating the expansive seven floor campus. The system was designed with a contemporary graphic texture with simulated lighting effects. The fresh design was made possible by our patented Vivid direct-print signage platform. This approach brought out the intricate detail of the design while providing the durability and easy cleaning required by high-traffic campuses. With flexibility in mind, signs were designed with changeable inserts so the system can keep up with the ever-changing needs of the college.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
The environmental focus of the campus is evident everywhere. Four green roof installations are among numerous sustainable initiatives portrayed by the LEED signage throughout the campus. The LEED signs are a great way to raise awareness of how our daily activities impact the environment.
“I've seen the LEED signage make a real difference. Like those that instruct “Burn Calories – Not Electricity" as a way to encourage people to use the stairs instead of the elevator. Those signs effect people's decisions every day," explains Kimberly E. Statt, SEGA, Vice President of Governance.
Since the earliest concepts, MCC's downtown campus has been an inspiring example of what can be accomplished when people work together. Stakeholders envisioned a campus built around the aspirations of the students and community. The result is a facility that really does inspire every day. We're proud to have done our part to bring MCC's brand to life and inspire future generations.
Once the graphics started going up, they brought an energy that made the campus feel alive and feel like home."
– Daniel Skernitt, SEGA, President
[ We're grateful to Dr. Joel Frater, Dana Voldan-Curry and Members of SEGA, MCC's Student Events and Governance Association, who generously took time to speak with us and share their insights on the design of the campus and the impact of our work. ]