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Campus Design that Established a Home-Away-from-Home-Feel

The central quad of Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC), a two-year institution in Mount Laurel, NJ, and its hierarchy of pathways is not only connecting the buildings around the campus, but also building a sense of community at RCBC. Landscape architecture firm Sikora Wells Appel's site deisgn included bluestone, pavers, lighting, benches, and tables and chairs that invite people both to travel through and linger in the central quad, creating a "home away from home" feel in a graceful, interesting way. Combinations of benches and moveable tables and chairs in large groupings and small clusters increase outdoor use and social opportunities. The palette of materials in Sikora's landscape design and the furnishings and lighting selections are now standards that elevate the appearance of the campus and will keep it aesthetically cohesive going forward.

At the heart of the campus, the central quad was designed in concert with the Student Success Center (at upper right).

Landscape Forms' Ashbery area lights, designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, were selected for use around the campus. Ashbery's design, a modern interpretation of historic forms, appealed to Sikora for its natural fit within the campus environment. Both modern and historic elements comprise the campus, with the striking glass architecture of the new Student Success Center surrounded by traditional brick buildings.

The bluestone pavers and benches create a unified aesthetic that invites people to use the space.

With a light selection made, the next step was to determine exactly how many fixtures were needed and where to locate them. Enter the lighting experts at Landscape Forms, who worked with Sikora to develop a lighting plot layout. The lighting design needed to address safety, which was paramount to campus leaders; nearly 4.5 acres needed the appropriate amount of light for students attending night and weekend classes.

Enrollment has increased more than 15 percent since the central quad redesign; it has created a wow factor for Rowan College.

Ashbery area lights offer a number of choices, including pole height, configuration of luminaires on a pole, and multiple distribution types. This gives designers flexibility to meet the needs of both the space and application. Landscape Forms created a lighting plot layout for RCBC that took advantage of the benefits of Ashbery area lights.

Ashbery lights bridge the design between the new Student Success Center with its modern glass architecture and the traditional brick buildings on campus.

First was consideration of distribution types. Distribution types let designers place light where it is needed. Asymmetrical (Type 3) distribution directs most light to one side of the fixture, while symmetrical (Type 5) directs light evenly around the entire fixture. Both asymmetrical and symmetrical distribution types were used to appropriately light the campus. With Ashbery area lights located to one side of the quad's pathways, Type 3 distribution directed more light on the pathways themselves. Type 5 distribution was being used along raised planting areas, which evenly lit all areas of the planters.

A network of walking paths serves to connect students to buildings, parking lots, and other areas of the campus.

Next was addressing perceptions of safety, particularly the sense of security that comes from being able to see people's faces as they approach at night. Light levels were measured at the ground plane of the paths but also five feet above grade along the direction of travel. This measured the amount of light hitting a vertical surface, in this case, a person's face when moving along a pathway.

The new site design has completely transformed the feel and functionality of the campus. Ashbery lights create a safe and secure evening experience.

Determining spaces of light fixtures was another consideration. Sikora provided Landscape Forms with its site plan, including fixture locations. Landscape Forms lighting team looked at the overall plan, considering the width and curves of the pathways and any light that would be coming from the adjacent parking lots. The team then calculated Ashbery's light levels and determined that Ashbery's 14-foot-tall fixtures would be spaced from 42 to 46 feet, which met and exceeded IES (International Engineering Society) guidelines for vertical and horizontal light levels.