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Architecture of GS&P-Designed Welcome Center Sets University Apart

Gateway to Embry-Riddle Campus wins “Award of Excellence” from AIA Jacksonville.


Gateway to Embry-Riddle Campus wins “Award of Excellence” from AIA Jacksonville.

GS&P-designed ERAU Jim W. Henderson administration and welcome center

JACKSONVILLE, FLA.--Gresham, Smith and Partners, a leading multi-disciplinary design and consulting firm for the built environment, announces the completion of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s (ERAU) new 30,000-sq.-ft. Jim W. Henderson Administration and Welcome Center in Daytona Beach, Fla. GS&P’s team sought to add to the flagship campus’s aesthetic value with the welcome center’s signature design. The soaring, fluid architecture represents the school’s aeronautical curriculum and makes a striking first impression on prospective students, parents, visitors and donors. On Friday, May 17, GS&P received an “Award of Excellence” for the project during AIA Jacksonville’s 2013 Design Awards Gala.

“Embry-Riddle is the world’s largest aviation and aeronautical university, and we wanted a welcome center that truly reflected our standards and showcased excellence,” says John P. Johnson, president and CEO of Embry-Riddle. “We are proud of the ongoing evolution we’re seeing with our campus facilities, and we’re pleased that GS&P’s design takes us to the next level and helps us stand out from the crowd. The new welcome center is exactly what we wanted: an expressive, aeronautics-inspired building in the heart of campus that helps our world-class university to better compete for students and funding.” 

“This project was both exciting and challenging; we pushed ourselves and our consultants to take the design to the next level, and the Award of Excellence from AIA Jacksonville demonstrates our achievement,” says Joe Thompson, AIA, division vice president at Gresham, Smith and Partners. “The cantilevered administrative block, the undulating steel roof, the expansive atrium, the interior bridge connecting the administrative office suite to the hospitality suite, the glass curtain wall engineered to resist hurricane- and tornado-force winds as defined by Florida code – all of these elements contributed to the architectural drama. The completed building now serves as not only a gateway to the Embry-Riddle campus but also a hallmark of the Daytona Beach community. We are proud to be recognized for our successful design and forward-thinking solutions by our industry peers with the AIA award.”

The multi-purpose facility is built on the site of the previous administration building, which was destroyed by a tornado in 2006. It is part of a five-year, $130 million update to ERAU’s campus. The welcome center includes meeting spaces for prospective students and tours, personnel offices, a hospitality suite, a communications center, an auditorium and ballroom, as well as an interactive exhibit of the university’s history. The project’s interior features simple finishes: concrete, glass, intricately patterned terrazzo flooring and warm dark-espresso wood compliment the exterior’s aesthetic. Surrounding the building, water is an essential element of the landscaping. Reflecting basins were placed to the east and west of the welcome center. The building’s reflections in the basins extend the design further into the site, and the reflected morning and afternoon sun serve to animate the building forms. 

The facility was also designed with numerous sustainable components including daylighting, high-efficiency mechanical and lighting systems, stormwater management, water conservation and low VOC materials.