North Georgia Technical College Industrial Technology Center
Because this newest facility at North Georgia Technical College caps the academic quad, its design was paramount. The 46,327 s.f. Industrial Technology Center (ITC) not only provides completion for the educational setting, it offers a necessary and aesthetic public face for NGTC.
The ambitious program called for two large educational programs (CNC Machine Tool and HVAC Technology) with accompanying computer labs, classrooms and ancillary spaces; an Economic Development center with an event space with capacity up to 240, with kitchen and ancillary space; an Economic Development suite including eight private offices, break room, and conference room; and classrooms, labs and a testing center for community education.
Set in a prominent part of campus and with different user groups, the ITC necessitated three front entrances, eliminating the sense of a rear or lesser side. The northeast corner (with both north and east entries) is the public face for campus visitors, while the west entry fronts the campus quad and is the educational access for students, teachers, and other school personnel.
Each of the two main program aspects – education and community interface – can be seen from the exterior as two unique “blocks” with two different, but complimentary material palettes. A clerestory atop the larger block of the building is meant as a beacon to the community, as it is visible throughout campus and from the highway that passes NGTC. The smaller educational block has a more personal scale, allowing it to interface with and complement the surrounding buildings.
In the interior is an additional “block,” further separating or delineating the educational programs. These three components are physically separated by a large circulation space, but are visibly connected through its openness, as well as through the abundance of glass used. The circulation commons also forms the main axes of the building, between the three entries, simplifying wayfinding.
This open common space provides a sort of “single-point guided tour” for visitors. Through any entry, visitors can see “through” the building: Observing the two training programs at work; social activity on the 1st floor Commons; or down to the campus quad beyond ―and proceed to the Event Center for a program, professional certification testing, or other event.
The technical programs taught within the ITC (CNC Machine Tool and HVAC Technology) were inspirations for the overall design, as well as for selection of finishes.
o The roof of the public building block is meant to mimic a sheet of metal being bent and manipulated in the machine tool lab – the “metal sheet” forms the roof and is “bent” to continue down the exterior wall, also being manipulated and bent at windows, etc.
o Much of the building features exposed ceilings, highlighting many of the systems taught in the HVAC technology program. The large common space also presents nozzle diffusers as a design feature, further enhancing the space with features of HVAC technology.
o Finish selections center around “technical” choices – metal accents (acoustical paneling, cast lettering), exposed concrete floors and ceilings, and neutral colors.