But its other master plan—for recruitment, enrollment and retention—puts the building plan to its highest purpose, using innovative design to keep students engaged on campus.
“When campus facilities provide students with the fullest Lynn experience, recruitment and retention take place naturally,” said Cliff Bollmann, project manager for Gensler, architects of the Lynn University Center, the Mary and Harold Perper Residence Hall under construction and the award-winning Mohammed Indimi International Business Center.
Lynn has great momentum: Between 2005 and 2011, the university’s four-year graduation rate increased by more than 11 percent.
“We are dedicated to student success from the moment we accept them to the university, and our goal is to see students walk across the graduation stage,” said Taryn Hamill, associate director of enrollment management. Already, the three-year program reports a graduation rate close to 75 percent.
How does a building—even one as impressive as the Lynn University Center—help a college accomplish its retention goals? Design it, as Gensler has, to attract, serve, connect and educate students so they feel part of the campus and don’t want to leave.
“The goal,” Bollmann said, “is to create a space where students want to be.”
The Lynn University Center will offer 24-hour dining, career services, the Center for Learning Abroad, campus store and mailroom, coffee shop, student affairs offices and bright, welcoming spaces for downtime. The connection between the campus outside the center and the activity inside is a green space dedicated to Mrs. Lynn, who made the new building possible with a $15 million gift, the largest in university history.
“We are dedicated to student success from the moment we accept them to the university, and our goal is to see students walk across the graduation stage.”
Taryn Hamill, associate director of enrollment management
A sneak peek at the University Center’s special places
It is a fitting tribute that the elegant green space framing The Christine E. Lynn University Center will also be dedicated to its namesake.
“It will quietly allude to Mrs. Lynn, in a refined, graceful way,” said Cliff Bollmann of Gensler, the project’s architect. “It is a way to celebrate everything she has done for Lynn.”
Located on the north side of the center, the park will function as quads do on many college campuses, as a hub and focal point. A diagonal path will meander through the space. It will gently lead to seating with optimal views of the center. Minimal plantings will highlight the building, not hide it.
It was Mrs. Lynn’s modern sensibility that served as Gensler’s design guide. She prefers tranquil spaces, nothing fussy or high-maintenance.
“I took them to my house to show them that I like a contemporary, clean, classic look,” Mrs. Lynn said. “I’m so excited about the concept they came up with.”
“It is just what I like outdoor spaces to be: clean and elegant.”
Christine E. Lynn
Friendly: That’s the word to describe Elaine’s Café on the ground floor of the center. “And warm. And welcoming. It will be a home away from home for students,” Bollmann said.
Named for Elaine Johnson Wold, who donated $1 million to the project, the new dining space on the north side of the building will be large, with seating for 150 people.
But it will also be something of a shape-shifter.
“Off hours, it can be cordoned off for a band, for student groups to meet or for a comedian to do stand-up,” Bollmann said. The west side of the space will feature a modest raised platform, 18 inches high, a more intimate elevation than a standard four-foot stage. Leveraging the dining space for other activities off hours will serve a bonus function: It will create density in the café, which is always more inviting for diners.
Day and night, floor-to-ceiling windows will connect the inside and the out.
“The entire space will provide energy, fellowship and fun along with great food for all students, staff and guests,” Mrs. Wold said.
“It reflects Mrs. Wold’s personality, very warm and friendly.”
Six ways smart buildings enhance student engagement
The Association of College Unions International reports that six design elements correlate to a university center’s positive influence on graduation rates. Here, a look at how the design for the Lynn University Center aligns with these principles:
- Welcomes (and inspires): Aesthetics like sleek stairwells and trendy light fixtures go a long way, but it also has to feel like home—a spot for a nap, karaoke with a crowd, a study session in the corner.
- Communicates university values: Openness and connectedness tell Lynn’s story.
- Offers a diverse space: Room for simultaneous co-curricular activities sends the message that all are invited.
- Supports the academic mission: The “living room” space inspires collaboration.
- Functions as a community center: The flexible, unifying design connects students, faculty, staff and neighbors.
- Celebrates traditions: Lynn’s global perspective is acknowledged by the Center for Learning Abroad upstairs; its Florida location is celebrated with outdoor seating and abundant glass to soak in sunlight.
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