Rutgers University-Camden: Nursing and Science Building
Architect: Perkins Eastman
Associate Architect: Nelson Architects
Owner: Rutgers University-Camden
Location: Camden, New Jersey
Award of Merit
After several decades of disinvestment and decline, Camden, New Jersey, has recently shown a commitment to revitalization and community-building. This commitment is realized in the Rutgers University-Camden: Nursing and Science Building.
Adjacent to City Hall, abutting the heavily trafficked Light Rail station, the building significantly improves Camden’s urban context; it captures at once the inherent value of access to transportation, a waterfront, historic building stock, and an activated pedestrian realm.
Located on a triangular site between the Rutgers-Camden campus and the Cooper Medical Center—the first academic building located off Rutgers-Camden’s traditional boundaries—the building is described as a game-changer in the revitalization of Camden, by building an “eds and meds” corridor connecting Camden’s university district with the Cooper University Hospital and Cooper Medical School of Rowan.
"Positive solution to a difficult plan-Excellent response to urban context." ~ Jury comment
Located on a swath of streetscape left vacant for decades, the building includes two storefronts to activate the street and provides a connection to the activity generated from the Light Rail. Instead of shying from this challenging context, the design embraces it through its expressive, multidimensional facades that showcase the activity within.
The building establishes a contextual architectural response to its street condition while its dynamic shape, expressive detailing, and animated glazing systems provide a signature expression for the University in its off-campus setting. By virtue of a monumental “super-window,” the facility’s academic functions are “on display” to the city, and its occupants are constantly connected to the urban context. As the single facility serving the entire nursing academic community, the building’s off-campus location posed a challenge. Without dedicated exterior space, the building needed to accommodate a nursing student population that would largely remain in this single facility throughout their academic careers. This demanded the crafting of a dynamic, varied, and flexible interior environment that could satisfy the students’ learning, socializing, collaboration, respite, and study habits—and wellness needs—throughout the four-year program.
The solution to the “self-contained” campus begins with four two-story spaces for dining, individual and social interaction, and formal gatherings that provide visual and physical interconnectivity between floors and student populations. A network of smaller social and study environments are knit together along a 'Student Street' that runs the length of the building's diagonal and overlooks south Camden, connecting occupants to external views and the natural environment, supporting wellness.
In response to changing models in healthcare delivery, healthcare education, and science learning, the facility includes a variety of academic teaching space, simulation labs, research space, and offices for use by the nursing, physics, and biology departments; a lecture hall and general classrooms for use by the entire campus; and public and community resources, including retail. The interior planning is organized vertically to distribute public functions and shared classroom and class-labs on the lower two floors, while the upper two floors are dedicated to nursing students.
The exterior design was developed to function compositionally at different scales, while it and the interior palette—in keeping with the building’s use for nursing and science inquiry and training—take cues from the seemingly random patterns and chroma of DNA genotyping.