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  • Type Master Plan, Visioning
  • Services Architecture
  • Awards AIA Eastern PA

The Challenge

Unlike suburban campuses, which often stand as islands awash in concrete and grass, the campus of Reading Area Community College is defined by two unique edges. Views of the campus can be seen from the Penn Street Viaduct and the southeastern corner of the bridge’s connection. Reading is no stranger to flooding, and the area that makes up RACC’s campus has been hit several times by historic floodwaters. As recently as 2006, the school bore the brunt of heavy flooding at a high cost.

Our Approach

Pre-dating Reading Community College by more than 100 years, the Penn Street Viaduct is a landmark to the community and an important gateway to the city. The bridge plays an important role as a campus element – a physical structure that is exclusive to the college and creates a sense of placemaking among the internal and external community. The master plan considers repositioning buildings toward the eastern edge of campus in order to minimize future flooding as much as possible. This brings the campus closer to the urban edge and positions RACC as a proactive community partner. Further, it expands the campus’s natural edge and extends the beautification along the riverbank.

Design Solution

Alloy5 created a conceptual site plan based on the goals of RACC’s strategic plan. Academic and administrative buildings sit perpendicular to the Penn Street Viaduct on the urban edge of campus. Two buildings parallel the bridge and form several quads which stretch to the campus’s nature edge. The southernmost quad is an activity quad, designed as a dynamic space for campus life. Next is the academic quad, which features a classically collegiate walkway. To the northern end of the bridge is the arts quad bookended by the Miller Center for the Arts and the Schmidt Training and Technology Center.

This project demonstrates what a human-centered, contemporary campus can be. AIA Eastern PA Jury Comments