A metal screen with an abstract, graphic pattern is situated over the main entrance of the 52,000-square-foot College of Arts
& Sciences building at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Ind. Designed by San Francisco-based EHDD Architecture, the screen provides a unique identity for the school and complements the sunshading elements on the attached Christopher Center for Library and Information Resources (CCLIR), which was also designed by EHDD and built in 2004.
The screen’s design and wording is produced from the university’s Latin motto: “In Luce Tua Videmus Lucem,” which translates to “In Thy Light, We See Light.” “A lively dialogue ensued about what the motto meant to the University, especially as a religious, Lutheran college, and also about the concept of light as a metaphor for knowledge and education,” explains Kelly Ishida Sloan, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, senior associate at EHDD Architecture. “We entertained the ideas of using only the translations of the word ‘light’ or incorporating a graphic of the flame, but everyone agreed that keeping the motto in place anchored the building in the University’s long history.”
The screen is composed of five vertically oriented panels that are anchored to a steel substructure and integrated into the building’s glazed curtainwall system. The words are waterjet cut from 1/2-inch-thick aluminum plate painted to match the window framing system. Spanning 30 feet wide, the screen is made up of an amalgamation of 39 translations for the motto, representing the home countries of every student on campus. The nine languages that are taught inside the building are shown larger, which the remaining translations compose the field condition. At the center lies the Latin motto itself.
In addition to the nine language departments, the academic building provides 95 faculty offices and support spaces, ten classrooms and a Language Research Center. It is the university’s first building to be completed via both design-build and fast-track processes, while also achieving LEED Silver certification.
The screen took approximately three months from design concept to final approval. Once Doralco Architectural Metals, Alsip, Ill., was brought on board, there was approximately another three weeks to adjust the design to accommodate detailed machining tolerances and prepare the digital file, Sloan explains.
“During the day, the screen reflects the sunlight against the backdrop of the building materials; at night, the interior spaces glow, setting the letters in relief,” says Sloan. “This screen has become a focal point for the entire University, not just the grouping of departments that call this building home. Like the library before it, EHDD’s College of Arts and Sciences building has become a symbol integral to the entire heart of the University.”
“Doralco was proud to be part of such a unique project where both the university and architect were able to see their vision become a reality,” says Thomas O’Malley, vice president of Doralco. “Believe me these type of jobs do not happen where something so creative makes it in the final budget. Selfishly I hope every year a new student of a different nationality arrives on campus and we get to do the project all over again!”
Metal Screen at College of Arts and Sciences Building, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Ind.
Owner: Valparaiso University
Architect: EHDD Architecture, San Francisco
Fabricator: Doralco Architectural Metals, Alsip, Ill., www.doralco.com