Park Shops was one of the first buildings constructed on the campus of North Carolina State University as an industrial shop for steel fabrication courses. This 1914 three-story, masonry structure is an L-shaped building which forms two sides of a new campus plaza and has now been transformed into a 21st century multi-functional campus building. In order to accommodate the demands of the modern lecture halls, laboratories, and student advising offices, and to help the building address the new landscape plaza located in the former loading area, the interior layout was completely re-oriented. Two intersecting spines of circulation were drawn across the building punctuated by modern insertions along those public paths. Notably, a slate-lined entry marks what used to be the main entrance to the building, and a triple height stair space drops students down into the cafe pavilion, the buildings new front entrance.
The demolition – subtraction process was an essential part of the design. First, the existing masonry walls and wood ceilings that had completely been covered by drywall and paint were sandblasted to reintroduce the natural qualities of the historic materials. The demolition process was also used to create unique public spaces by removing floor plates in certain locations. At the main public stair, an opening was cut into the floor to allow for the space to have views of the entire three-story structure and to bring daylight deep into the building.
New elements inserted into the building shellwalls and ceilingswere detailed to highlight the existing spaces by creating joints of light or shadow, reinforcing the dialogue between old and new. To further express the masonry, new insertions of glass with varying levels of translucency were used to highlight the tactile quality of the masonry structure, as well as to create views through the existing solid masonry walls.
The decision to reuse an existing shell and structure embodies the sustainable principles that were championed throughout the project. Original bricks were salvaged and reused for the infill of masonry walls. The existing operable industrial window frames were reconditioned, reglazed, and insulated. The entire shell was tuck pointed and the roof was replaced with a reflective standing seam insulated metal panel system. All the main public spaces were opened up to clerestory windows to take advantage of natural daylight.
At one time, many university staff members argued to demolish Park Shops. The existing building had multiple complications: low floor to floor heights, multiple building code issues, a deflecting wood floor structure, and a ground floor that had seven different floor levels. The renovation work included inserting a new elevator and a new steel frame composite floor structure, underpinning the existing masonry walls, creating 186 m of new space from what had been crawl space, and lowering the ground floor slab to minimize the number of different floor elevations. The resulting interior spaces are both a testament to the integrity of the historic structure and the ingenuity of the modern intervention.