What's the latest style for today's higher education environments? Flexible spaces designed for collaboration, clean and bright interiors, and cutting-edge technology.
Patcraft's Mixed Materials collection featuring carpet tile and resilient flooring provides sleek design and practicality for the Cunningham Business Center, a state-of-the-art academic building at Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne. This dazzling structure reopened in January 2016 after a top-to-bottom redesign and renovation by design builder Michael Kinder & Sons.
"Personally, I really like the look and feel. The mixing of the resilient [flooring] and the carpet is unique," said Judy K. Roy, Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration at Indiana Tech. "I've had many comments about it from people who have toured the building."
The three-story Cunningham Business Center was originally built in 1952 as a high school, and was acquired by Indiana Tech in 1962. For 50 years, business students have filled its lecture halls, classrooms, and computer labs, but the structure was due for an overhaul. Michael Kinder & Son's vision was to transform the old-school structure into a state-of-the-art business education facility designed to foster interactive learning. They gutted the interior and completely rebuilt it in about eight months, says designer Dawn Terry.
Terry spotted Mixed Materials at the Patcraft exhibit at NeoCon, an annual commercial interiors show held each June in Chicago. She knew it was the right fit for the new Cunningham Business Center.
"We like the overall flexibility and unlimited design configurations of the Mixed Materials products, with no need for transitions," she said. Terry and her team opened up the main floor and designed a new entrance. As you step inside, Mixed Materials resilient is installed throughout the foyer, and then gives way to carpet tile. "A good walk-off area is essential. We exclusively used Patcraft flooring to keep it consistent, not just in design, but also performance."
The Cunningham Business Center is an exciting educational space for collaborative learning, where students can hang out, share ideas, and use the latest technology. There are computer labs, media production facilities where online courses are enhanced, study rooms, and a lively lounge. The Enterprise Lab is the new building's show stopper: a dynamic, two-story atrium for studying the fast-paced world of finance, complete with a huge stock ticker.
"We want to encourage students to collaborate here, in a variety of different teaching spaces that have technology incorporated," said Terry. "Our thought process was to give it the look and feel of a corporate financial institution, conservative design, beiges, and neutrals. Then we completely changed directions, and made this a lively, colorful, stimulating space for education."
The new color scheme incorporates metallic tones, as well as different colors in some of the classrooms. Patcraft's Mixed Materials collection visually connects the many rooms in this huge, rectangular main floor, according to Roy. Here, you'll see some of the original, exposed brick walls juxtaposed with new features like curved, curtained walls and metal panels. Students meet up for coffees, sodas, or snacks in the second-floor lounge, where's there's a mix of resilient and carpet tile.
"It's nice to have a grouping of resilient and carpet tiles that was designed to go together," said Roy. "It helped us do some really nice things with the floor design to brighten up the building by creating some unique patterns."
Mixed Materials is a practical solution for the new Cunningham Business Center due to its easy cleaning and durability. This saves time and money for the university, which has plenty of foot traffic year round.
"A majority of our clients in higher education focus on flooring solutions that fit their maintenance needs, and products that they can easily maintain," said Terry. "We did a test area and mocked up the flooring to see if they were OK with the combination of resilient and carpet tile."
Roy and Mike Townsley, Indiana Tech's Director of Facilities Operations, were pleased with the quality and practicality of Mixed Materials – as well as its visual appeal.
While Indiana Tech's custodial services manager notes that the combination of flooring is a little more challenging to maintain in Indiana's wet winter months, "winter creates challenges for maintaining all flooring products. I like the fact that the flooring is not slippery when it's wet," said Townsley.
Maintenance is one important factor when it comes to selecting flooring, according to Roy. "Budget is of overall importance, but it has to be something that looks good in the building. We were all about putting down flooring that can be maintained. There was more than one discussion between Mike and our Patcraft resources to be sure that the combination of carpet and resilient could be maintained," she said. "We know how to maintain hard surfaces. We know how to maintain carpet. The combination of the two is something that we are sure will work for us long term."