Campus Housing / Merit
The jury commended this dormitory building for its “beautiful integration into the hillside and rugged terrain.” Steve DeRochi was thrilled to hear the comment, because he eschewed the path of least resistance on this project: the flat, easily buildable area close to a busy highway. Instead, the eight-story structure cuts into a narrow incline that descends to protected wetlands below. “It would have been easier to put the building on top of the hill,” says DeRochi, “but it meant making half the rooms look out over the highway and making the kids walk up a pretty steep hill to get there.”
Now all rooms have bucolic views of wetlands or the campus and the valley beyond. Switching the axis also solved ADA issues because lower levels are accessible at grade. In addition, heating and cooling costs are reduced thanks to the sun-gathering north-south orientation, which helps combat cold Jersey winters. And, in another move praised by the judges, student lounges are stacked along the west facade to face a large, contemplative pond.