ZGF designed the commons—the new home for the Office of Advancement and the Alumni Association—to provide a welcoming, hospitable and memorable environment that conveys the spirit and rich history of the university. The 4,000 SF space includes reception, a living room style main gathering space, and a large conference room supported by a catering kitchen to host fundraising events and alumni gatherings. In working with the university to develop the vision for the space, identify commonalities between mission and program of both groups and to interpret the campus’ history, legacy and image a number of themes emerged that were embraced in the design including concepts of permanence, legacy, timelessness, transformation, and purpose. To evoke these themes gold and purple materials, finishes and lighting—traditional UW colors—were used generously throughout, elements such as the gothic relief and lit panel at the entry recall the historic Suzzallo Library form and stained glass windows at the heart of the campus, and the main board room includes a graphic composition of alumni celebrating the legacy of the institution.
ZGF, in association with Studio SC, provided environmental graphic design for the Washington Commons. The welcoming space conveys the campus’ rich history. The design draws inspiration from the University’s motto, Lux Sit, meaning ‘education as enlightenment’. A ‘faces and places’ wall features images of notable alumni made of wood that was salvaged from a tree on campus and conveys the importance and potential of each student, while the timeline—applied to a glass surface—celebrates significant dates, events and innovations. In the reception area, inspirational words are cut into wood paneling and backlit with gold lighting. The elevator bay is etched with an image of the iconic Suzzallo library to remind visitors of the inspiration and knowledge the library imparts. Gold and purple lighting, traditional UW colors, emanates throughout the space.