The Student Center, the work of the architect Henry Klumb inaugurated in 1961, is undoubtedly one of the architectural gems of the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. In turn, the building has been through the years a cultural and social center of the Campus. The intervention strategy is a specialized one with techniques of conservation in architectural details, historical surfaces, etc., and in the incorporation of contemporary elements and modern systems and high technology.
The project consisted in full renovation and code compliance of an Assembly Hall Building connected to 3 wings of classrooms and faculty offices. In addition to interior classrooms finishes and furnishings, the most challenging code compliance was the structural reinforcements. In order to meet with the current Building Codes, new structural elements were introduced and brought down to below existing footings. The original building was built in 1960 by Toro Ferrer (the original firm), pioneers of Tropical Modernism.
My role as a client’s representative in charge of managing all aspects of the construction process was to ensure the laboratories met strict technical specifications and building code. Another particular aspect of this project was to address the logistics of a construction in a building while it is still in operation, in this case, thousands of students circulating in and out of classrooms and hallways.
The building is designed as reinforced concrete structure with smooth exposed concrete finish obtained by utilizing a mix of self-consolidating concrete (SCC). My role as a client’s representative in charge of managing all aspects of the construction process, was to ensure that the quality of the construction match the intent of the architect and the owner. Other features include an aluminum-clad façade in various tones of powder-coatings designed by local artist.
As lead building inspector and part of the team of 504 Construction Managers, Inc., a full-service inspection and management were provided to the Hospital. The services provided included weekly CPM Scheduling, daily safety inspections. The design consisted of state-of-the-art facilities and innovative construction details and specifications. A ‘floating’ concrete slab was designed and built for the operating rooms in order to separate and isolate any possible vibrations from the buildings structure. The project’s infrastructure like for example, gas lines, water, power and data had to be connected to existing Hospital provisions without interruption of on-going activities.
The house is situated on the hills of Villa Borinquen in Vieques with views to the mainland of Puerto Rico and the island of Culebra nearby. The design was to convert a primary residence into a beach retreat that would accommodate short term visitors. The bathrooms and rooms are open and informal as well as the closets are designed for few items.
The existing building occupied an entire city block approx. 245 ft. x 245 ft. Its ‘brutalist’ style did not have a connection to the street and/or pedestrians and lacked any natural lighting in the interior spaces. The primary design gesture was to replace solid ground level walls with full 16 ft. glass panes on the north and south facades. The entire 1st level is treated as an open plaza with meandering hallways that lead you to various governmental agencies. The interior partitions are also perforated with large glass openings in order to allow transparency in its daily operations.