The doors open to Ge Hekai Hall, a new building on the campus of Wenzhou-Kean University, China
Ge Hekai Hall, designed by Moore Ruble Yudell, stands in the center of the Wenzhou-Kean University campus in China. The university, located in Wenzhou, a city in Zhejiang Province, occupies an area of 173 acres (70 h), not far from Chui Tai Mountain Forest Park. Ge Hekai Hall was recently inaugurated as part of the tenth anniversary of Wenzhou-Kean University, which has been twinned with Kean University, New Jersey.
Ge Hekai Hall provides some 172,222 square feet (16,000 m2) of floorspace, and houses the architecture, design, and IT departments. It acts as a gateway to the university, which offers the same model of interdisciplinary learning as its historic US twin. Moore Ruble Yudell’s design, which won an international competition, sits in the middle of the campus along its main axis, between an elliptical green area to the south and a stretch of water to the north.
The building is formed by a combination of different volumes, with eight rectangular prisms clad in dark stone acting as a base for a large white trapezoidal element, encased in ultra-high-performance concrete. The Forum, an 800-seat auditorium, occupies the space where the different elements join the base. Inside the building are numerous classrooms, offices, a library, a cafeteria, and two exhibition areas. Outside, the southern façade is framed by a large portico, intended as a backdrop for events, such as graduation ceremonies. The elevations have ultra-high-performance concrete cladding and large windows that take in views of the nearby mountains.
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The fulcrum of the building, the Forum is a large meeting place illuminated by a massive skylight that’s been designed as a kind of town square to bring all the students together, including at the symbolic level. This space is intended to host various events, from screening movies to dance performances, concerts, and conferences. Tony Xiaodong Zheng, deputy chancellor of Wenzhou-Kean University, said, “Ge Hekai Hall is not just an education building; it’s becoming the living room of the campus.” Inspired by the École de Beaux-arts in Paris, the project aims to create a miniature neighborhood, animated by its public life. The roof terraces of the lower volumes are accessible at any time of the day and night via a system of outdoor stairs and walkways.
As well as rooftop gardens, there are several design measures aimed at guaranteeing both the sustainability of the project – which is aiming to achieve LEED Gold certification – and the wellbeing of users. These measures are both technological (such as a photovoltaic and rainwater recovery systems) and architectural (such as ensuring the entry of sunlight and natural ventilation to the interiors).
“The building design concept revolves around sets of dualities: China’s past and future, building techniques old and new, and a set of orthogonal lower buildings supporting an active, angular upper building,” says Christopher Chan, AIA, principal-in-charge of the project at Moore Ruble Yudell. “This set up a series of relationships that defined its iconic composition of hierarchical forms and expressions that define its iconic presence on campus.”
Location: Wenzhou, Zhejiang, China
Gross Floor Area: 15.800 m2
Architect, Interior Design and Landscape: Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners
Associate Architect and Engineer (through DD phase): Tongji Architectural Design
Architect of Record: Zhongtian Construction Architectural Design Institute
Structures: Zhongtian Construction Group
MEP: Zhongtian Construction Group
Lighting Design: Brandston Partnership Incorporated (BPI)
Quantity Surveyor: Rider Levitt Bailey
General Contractor: Zhongtian Construction Group
Photography by Seth Powers, courtesy of Moore Ruble Yudell