Winslow Street ParkingUniversity of Kentucky
The Winslow Street Project design activates an important, growing part of campus with an innovative education area, retail, and the “wildly” popular eSports space.
In 2018, the University of Kentucky announced an expansive growth plan that would add 2,500 to 3,500 students by 2024. The growth plan included more than $500 million in renovated and newly constructed buildings with the creation of an additional 250,000 square feet of building space. The Winslow Project, on the corner of Winslow Street and Limestone Street, was a part of that expansion.
The Winslow Project presented several challenges. First, the structure needed to provide 900 to 1,000 parking spaces, as well as space for retail and innovative educational environments. Additionally, the university was limited in how it could fund the project, so any building had to be designed keeping the possibility of funding through a public-private partnership in mind.
As Sherman Carter Barnhart researched the Winslow Project area, and other parking projects across the country, we realized that we wanted to offer the most parking “bang” for the university’s buck, as well as develop a space that would draw people to that area of campus. We wanted the space to be a “face” of the university for parents, prospective students, and others visiting the campus, and a place that area residents and students would associate with the future of the school and innovation.
Our solution to these challenges was to build on to an existing parking structure and incorporate not only parking and retail but an open innovation education area that would encourage collaboration in an open environment.
We carried the style of the existing building and the architectural language of the campus forward visually relating the expansion to the existing structure. Adding a lightwell between the structures provided more safety and security while brightening the area.
At street level, several retail spaces and streetscaping were incorporated that give everyone who uses the structure an inviting and energizing view of campus, from parents bringing their high schooler in for a campus visit to those attending workshops or camps.
The interior of the building incorporates educational spaces. Working with the university, we created an unstructured educational space, the Innovative Development Lab, where students could come to learn, experiment and have fun. We crafted a wide-open space with a garage feel where students felt it was okay to make mistakes and learn from the experience. By creating this entrepreneurial environment, the university could use the space for group collaboration, for small discussion groups, or for larger lectures and performances, depending on the needs of the school and students.
Through discussions with the university on how to draw more traffic to the area, we opted to insert an arena for eSports. This space, an “eStadium,” provides room for eSports competitions, as well as an area for spectators and eSportscasters. Other areas of the eSportsCenter offer students the opportunity to use powerful gaming computers to practice or just to play. Couch “co-ops” offer students couches and consoles to relax and game alone or with friends. And finally, an auditorium provided the university with an area for performances, or classes, within the gaming environment
To solidify the draw of the area, we wrapped the corner of the building with a digital panel media wall. Broadcasting UK-themed elements, the display will turn that corner of Lexington into a mini Times Square – an advertisement for what is going on at the school in the present and in the future, as well as a digital presence of the innovation taking place inside the walls of the Winslow Project.