The view within a kaleidoscope is comprised of individual elements that create a larger, more complex scene of shapes and colors. The individual elements continually move and reflect causing the overall scene to continually transform. Community is composed of individual people who are continually moving, reflecting, and interacting; with the constant change of people comes the constant transformation of the community.
This design concept translates into the larger scale programming of Mercer Court all the way down to the small details of the finish materials. The interiors are a kaleidoscope of individual, vibrant spaces that together form cohesive opportunities that support the students’ daily need to explore new ideas, gather, and rejuvenate in varying ways.
Mercer Court is comprised of five buildings with the Husky Grind Café positioned at the “front door” of the main building, where students can grab coffee as they come and go from campus. The highly active main building acts as the hearth with a strong connection to the plaza and courtyards that weave the buildings together. Inside, a two-story great room is a social anchor, complete with a variety of ways for residents to engage. One of the key ideas relating to the concept is creating space within space that allows for varying levels of interaction and learning. The game area, tv lounge, kitchen, and dining spaces radiate from the double height fireplace in the great room. Study nooks, on the second level, are slightly removed from the action, allowing for voyeurism and impromptu interactions below.
The buildings are designed to create a sense of community at a variety of scales. Music rooms, large enclosed study rooms, and open study areas off the lobbies have visual connections with the active plaza, courtyards, and entry arcades. Rooftop study lounges offer students another perspective with the spectacular views of the bay and skyline. The composition of the residential units range from studios to six-bedroom apartments. The multi-bedroom apartments included a shared living, dining, and kitchen. The six-bedroom apartment is unique in that all bedrooms have ensuite facilities, which allow residents to mingle with their roommates or rejuvenate in their own private space.
Along with the views and the spatial relationships, finish materials are reminiscent of a kaleidoscope. The fireplace has end-grain wood cladding, each small piece is naturally unique and creates an interesting montage. Within the layered glass railing system are fragmented glass pieces that reflect light in different angles. Other finishes include fragmented elements and strong colors such as the carpet pattern, furniture forms, fabrics, and glass partitions with colored, translucent graphics. Lobbies have back-lit, glowing, colored glass panels. The fragments and colors were integrated into the signage throughout the site down to the individual apartment signage.
The interiors at Mercer Court support students as individuals and as a collective, from the active gathering areas to the quiet, reflective spaces. The strong community here in turn strengths the University of Washington as a whole.