Digital Lab: A dynamic building expresses the spirit of a cutting-edge program
As one of the few dedicated colleges of Informatics in the country, Northern Kentucky University (NKU) desired a home for its cross-disciplinary program that would embody the power and excitement of the digital world. As the physical manifestation of Informatics, the building would be a high-technology laboratory in the service of very human teaching, learning, research, and collaboration serving the college, NKU, and the greater Cincinnati community.
Important goals included:
- Create a unique, bold, and dynamic identity
- Foster work across disciplines—business, medicine, science, and IT
- Convey the power of information technology as a tool for designing a better future
Having won this commission through a design competition, we engaged the faculty, students and staff of the College of Informatics and of the university in a collaborative process to validate the program and evolve the design. The result is a dramatically sculptural form, centered on the multi-story Informatics Commons. The building boldly announces and expresses the unique digital program through its unconventional spaces for teaching, collaboration and introspection. Griffin Hall embodies an encompassing vision of education that enables the building to expand its mission in both space and time.
Featured in Learning Spaces Collaboratory Guide: Planning for Assessing 21st Century Spaces for 21st Century Learners
At the heart of the building is the Informatics Common, a vibrant center of activity that serves as a meeting place for socializing and collaborative or individual study. Enlivened by a stair/amphitheater, balconies, and a bridge linking the various floors, it features programmable LED lighting that animates the space and conveys one aspect of the digital world.
Labs and learning spaces
Classrooms support a wide range of pedagogical methods, both analog and digital. The building features 34 programmed learning spaces provided in 25 distinct designs, including 12 laboratories.
Sleek building skin fits its context
Griffin Hall’s exterior draws from and complements its architectural context, which includes concrete, glass, and metal buildings from the 1960s onward. Its form helps frame the new West Oval and define a new south entry drive.