TThe Gardner Commons is the University of Utah’s largest undergraduate academic building with 35 classrooms, collaborative space, research space, and faculty offices. As a central hub for daily undergraduate life, the Commons is the new home for College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, 15 departments and Institutes, including the Hinckley Institute of Politics, as well as a consolidated center for Advising, a prominently located University Welcome Center, and 150-seat Café/Study zone on the main level with 4 food venues, and integrated study lounge seating.

This new facility redefines institutional expectations for teaching, research and learning. The Commons gets its name from a higher mission to build a strong student community, increase student retention, and graduation rate. The design approach fosters this by creating proximities and settings that invite students, daily, to linger and discover programs and resources in a relaxed and collegial student life environment. where interdisciplinary conversations among faculty, students, and philanthropic community partners, are engaged in team-based studies.

To inspire interaction on the top levels of the building, three aligned clerestories pierce the roof, deflecting indirect sunlight down through the building via sloping walls, where it reaches the center walkways of the top three levels. Changes in daylight modulate the character of an otherwise mundane experience of walking to class. Play of sunlight and shadow naturally draws people to places to sit, study, or meet others between class, programs, and workspace destinations.

SERVICES: Programming, Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape & Site Design

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Design Challenge
Activate the largest new academic building that will sit at the center of campus. MHTN designed the first two levels of the Commons with a diagonal path that acquiesces to the route of student foot traffic from all directions into an energized hub of undergraduate daily life.

Salt Lake City, UT |  216,800 sf  |  $59M  |  2018

Earth Centered
Gardner Commons is the first building at the University of Utah to use Ground Source wells as it’s heating and cooling energy source. Ground Source wells provide 96% of the heating loads (or 100% heating hours), 60% of the cooling load (or 90% cooling hours). The System savings over typical campus systems is $70,000 annual energy savings. This approach is removes 378 metric tons of CO2 Eq from campus.ld, storm water collection.