Dion Family Student Center & Quad Commons Residences
Saint Michael’s College
Medieval French architecture – in this case Saint Mary’s Abbey in Pontigny, France – was the inspiration for the Dion Family Student Center and Quad Commons Residences at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont.
The Pontigny Abbey was the birthplace of the Edmundites, the Catholic order who founded St Mike’s at the turn of the last century. It was their core values of education, service, and community that the school’s leaders sought to promote through architecture in the new buildings.
The design team responded with a new four-story residence hall and three-story student center that embraces the college’s unique history and values. The student center’s Gothic arches emulate those found at Pontigny, and serve as a subtle reminder of the school’s Edmundite roots. At the building’s main entrance, a glowing pillar of color and light—illuminated by super-efficient LEDs—evokes thoughts of the divine.
To promote camaraderie among students, the two new buildings were placed in the middle of a traditional residential quad at the center of campus. Ground level and elevated walkways connect all six buildings together, resulting in a seamless whole that brings close to half of the college’s 2,000 students together in a single residential community.
The student center features open, naturally bright spaces including a casual dining facility, a fitness center, student services offices, a multi-purpose meeting and banquet room for up to 400 guests, a glass-walled radio studio, an interfaith meditation room, and several student lounges. The attached residence hall provides housing for 105 students in a mix of single rooms and four-person suites.
The design incorporates several sustainable features including an innovative closed-loop geothermal system that provides 100 percent of the heating and cooling needs for both buildings. Superior air quality, abundant natural light, and a high-performance building envelope enhance user comfort and keep energy bills low.
“Students now have much needed space to meet, talk, pray, study, and to learn from each other,” says the college’s President. “We have every hope that this space will inspire and ignite great learning.”