In May 2020, the new Christine E. Lynn University Center earned LEED Silver certification through the U.S. Green Building Council. As Lynn University's third LEED-certified building, the center creates a warm, welcoming place for students to gather within the 115-acre campus in Boca Raton, Fla. Gensler's Tampa-based team selected Rockfon's acoustic stone wool panels, Chicago Metallic suspension system and Infinity perimeter for a complete ceiling solution to meet the project's aesthetic, performance and sustainable design goals.
The $30 million, 65,000-square-foot student center also is the largest facility project undertaken on the campus to-date. In 2019, the American Institute of Architects-Miami, recognized the University Center's successful building design with an Honor Award of Excellence.
"The University Center is the heart of Lynn, a place that becomes an extension of home," explained Gensler. "Merging a youthful vibe with a comfortable home-away-from-home atmosphere, the building has all the components that provide support, connectivity and entertainment."
A hub for social, academic and dining spaces, the University Center is set between student housing, academic buildings, athletics facilities and campus services. The building's interior contains open floor plans, finishes and furnishings to promote engagement between students, faculty and staff.
In educational settings and open spaces without acoustic wall panels, a high-performance, sound-absorbing ceiling system plays a critical role. Choosing ceiling panels with a high Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) increases speech privacy and intelligibility, improves concentration and supports a healthy, comfortable learning space.
Used on all three levels of the University Center, Rockfon Sonar panels have excellent sound absorption with an NRC of 0.95, coupled with the desirable, elegant aesthetic of their lightly textured, white s surface. Gensler specified Rockfon's acoustic, stone wool ceiling panels with a square tegular, reveal edge that adds shadow and dimension to the interior design.
Complementing Rockfon Sonar's appearance and performance, Rockfon Artic panels were installed in the enclosed rooms on the third and second levels. The top floor houses the Social Impact Lab, Watson Institute and coworking spaces. The middle floor encompasses alumni, career, study abroad and flexible conference spaces, plus Christine's, an upscale pub. Within these spaces, where walls and furnishings offer acoustic absorption, the designers specified a more economical ceiling solution with standard sound absorption of NRC 0.75.
Rockfon Koral ceiling panels have an NRC of 0.85 to balance acoustic comfort within the energetic socialization in the multi-purpose rooms on the first floor. Here, students and visitors enjoy on-stage entertainment, group activities and a 24-hour dining hall. The ground floor also is accessible to Christine's Park with green space and an amphitheater-style teaching area for outdoor classes. Emphasizing a connection with nature, local plant surrounds the center, and students take in views from its floor-to-ceiling windows and terraces.
"Integrating collaborative and focused-work space with transparency and blended spaces encourages students to find their own place, while supporting each other," said Dana Muller, LEED-AP, senior associate and project manager for Gensler.
"Our primary goal is to make Lynn as accessible, comfortable and safe as possible for our students, and as welcoming as possible for our surrounding community," said Gregory J. Malfitano, Lynn University's senior vice president for development and administration.
Contributing to the University Center's safety, health, wellness and sustainability, Rockfon ceiling panels meet numerous LEED v4 criteria in the Materials and Resources category and Indoor Environmental Quality categories. Rockfon's complete ceiling solution – panels, suspension system and perimeter trim – are made with recycled content.
All of Rockfon's stone wool panels installed in the student center are GREENGUARD Gold certified, fulfilling the low emission requirements of LEED v4. The panels enhance brighter, energy-efficient interiors, too. The white surface chosen for the University Center reflects at least 85 percent of all light, helping carry Florida's abundant natural daylight more deeply into the facility and reducing the need for electric lighting.
Stone wool also resists moisture and provides no sustenance for mold, mildew or potentially harmful bacteria and microorganisms. Sag-resistant in up to 100% relative humidity, the lightweight material is easy to carry and install. For the University Center, Sesco installed Rockfon ceiling panels in Chicago Metallic 4000 Tempra 9/16-inch exposed suspension system. The steel grid was finished in white with matching 8-inch-high, aluminum Infinity Standard Perimeter Trim to form the ceiling's straight, neat edges and crisp corners.
In addition to the ceiling tiles, the grid-based system easily integrates light fixtures, air diffusers, sprinklers, speakers and other equipment. The suspension system also provides convenient access to the plenum when audio/visual, security, and other mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems – normally concealed by the ceiling panels – need to be repaired or updated.
Managing future updates and growth, Lynn University follows its Campus Master Plan developed with Gensler in 2009. The plan considers enrollment projections, financial stewardship and environmental sustainability to serving its rapidly increasing enrollment of more than 3,000 students.
"Our approach is based on Lynn University's core values as a vibrant, energetic campus," noted Gensler's senior associate Cliff Bollmann. "The goal is to drive an energy on campus and create a space where students want to be."
The University Center is one part in achieving this goal. "The students feel as though they have a place to go, whether it's to interact, relax, study or socialize. It's a one-stop shop for all the support they need," said Anthony Altieri, Lynn University's vice president of student affairs. "After hours, we see students gathered in collaboration rooms and other groups using spaces as they were designed and meant to be used. It's been a reinforcement of our vision for the building's vital role on campus."
Lynn University's president Kevin M. Ross concluded the Christine E. Lynn University Center to be "much more than a beautiful building" and one that can "truly transform the daily lives of everyone on campus – especially those of our students."