Oakland University – Oakland Center Addition

Oakland University renovated and expanded the Oakland Center, a hub for student activities, clubs, and organizations, including a ballroom, meeting rooms, and a food court. Built in 1958, the 140,000 square foot building was enlarged and modernized. This project added 65,000 square feet of space and included a tiered floor plan with higher ceilings, opening up the space from the basement to the top floors. New study, leisure, and meeting spaces was added to the ground floor. The kitchen layout redesign increases functionality and efficiency of food prep. A new entry was added on the north side of the building.

Spalding DeDecker (SD) was chosen to provide the following Scope of Services:

  • Topographical Survey: including Building Exterior, Area of Expansion, and Area Surrounding Clocktower
  • Construction Layout

The Challenge
Having had three renovations since ’58, the Oakland Center was a bit of a design hodgepodge. Entering and exiting the building was via a series of ‘terrace pathways’ (imagine a walk-out basement that puts you into a maze of ascending/descending stair wells and paths) – attracted litter, debris, and wayward landscaping blight. The kitchen – the heart of any home or college campus – suffered from poor layout. Interior spaces were incongruent with the new millennia of collaborative student life. Yet, space reconfigurations, along with the exterior face-lift needed to proceed among the current (and future) flow of student activities.

The Solution
Wrapping ideas around the challenge was the solution. SD knew that you need to know the details in order to see the big picture. The survey needed to show extreme details of the existing building design – so that the proposed redesign would work. On the outside: largely made of glass, a new exterior is ‘wrapped’ around the existing building, with designers looking at heating/cooling options to maximize energy efficiency. On the inside: office spaces were moved toward the interior, while activity spaces and meeting areas are now located near the outer walls, giving visibility from the inside out.

The Impact
Renovation work is the engineer’s “total body makeover” – you have to focus on the inside as well as the outside. SD professionals have many years on the surveying treadmill – it’s one of our core disciplines. And as any professional fitness guru will attest to: a strong core comes from – discipline.