The four-story multipurpose student support complex is the first point of contact for students who attend Florida International University from around the world. FIU Student Academic Center is built to inspire with a burnished finished architectural precast facade with extreme angled fin panels with a metallic look.
The idea of shaded palm fronds inspired the building façade strategy. The window openings, which look like the fins or gills, are central to the building’s distinctive look and are a strategic lighting choice, based on how a palm frond diffuses light in the environment. Through shade studies, Gould Evans was able to balance nature light with temperature limiting the native heat and keeping interiors cool.
The unique chameleon look that changes with different light perspectives was originally designed with metal panels. GATE Precast achieved the metal-panel look utilizing a burnished GATEstone finish on the panels which offer a thinner profile and stronger hurricane resistance than could be accomplished with a metal panel system.
Three-dimensional models were used to perfect the design. The 2-inch thick finned panels required coordination between Balfour Beatty and the design team to support the highly complex openings, which feature three pieces of mirrored glazing and six precast concrete piece.
The project was recognized as the Best Higher Education/University Building Award in PCI’s 2019 Design Awards competition.
“This was such a magnificent use of precast. The fins just made the exterior architecture beautiful as well as bringing light into the building. It makes you want to see from the outside how the light feels when you are sitting inside one of these rooms.”
Marty Huie, Jacobs Engineering Group
2019 Design Award Jury Member
FIU constructs its campus with resiliency in mind. Through the help of a FEMA grant, FIU holds the designation of Disaster-Resistant University and is home to the Academy for International Disaster Preparedness.