Cornish President Nancy J. Uscher wanted the new Cornish Commons to "be the heart of [the] South Lake Union campus and the 'living room' for all of [the] students, not just the residents." Commuter students, faculty, and staff all combine to create a bustling center of activity for the campus.
Our team spent days fully immersed on the existing campus to understand the student experience and the unique way the school teaches. At the core of Cornish's philosophy is a desire to expose students to a wide range of art disciplines. For example, dancers take graphic design classes, and graphic designers take classes with architects. They expect students to see different perspectives on design and art to get a holistic, creative experience.
Cross-disciplinary learning weaves through our interior design. The interiors mix and match students across disciplines by providing a variety of studio spaces (music, painting, study rooms) on different floors, encouraging student engagement vertically throughout the building. The visual metaphor of artistry flows from the outside in. The geometry and color of the façade add rhythm to the interior textures. Bold color pops, geometric floor patterns and textural feature walls encourage collaboration and cross pollination among the residents and staff. The design stimulates intellectual curiosity and student collaboration while preparing them to enter society as artists, citizens, and innovators.
The residential design also responds to the specific needs for different students. Small touches like providing bathtubs for dancers to soak in after a day of classes or using whiteboard paint for the artists to doodle sets the space apart from the average college residence hall.
The new Commons creates a strong community that supports academic, professional, and social pursuits all in one building. The first floor includes reception, lounge areas, a grand staircase designed to inspire social engagement. The two levels have double-height space with floor-to-ceiling glass organized around a bold feature stair. Also included are two student gallery walls, a hearth, movie watching area, community study rooms, four movement theatre studios, a counseling center, and academic support. Driven by the idea of transparency, these floors create a living room that drives round-the-clock student activity.
Making the most of the views of the city and Sound, every residential unit has floor-to-ceiling glass windows. The idea of customizing and interacting with the space plays out in subtle ways. The furniture in each room’s living area can be easily moved to create a unique, personalized space. Every floor encourages students with different creative talents to mingle, collaborate, and learn from one another.
Once a student reaches the top of the building, they have an expansive, double-height sky lounge with glazing to the north overlooking South Lake Union. Our design team thoughtfully collaborated with the students to include a community kitchen, outdoor patio, fitness room, gaming and multi-media lounge, fine arts studio, performance practice rooms and full laundry facility into this space.