Salem College held an open house and ceremony on May 13 to dedicate its new student center, the first new building on the Winston-Salem, N.C., campus in 32 years. The $6.8 million building, measuring approximately 15,000 square feet, was designed by LAMBERT Architecture + Interiors and was built by Frank L. Blum Construction Company.

The building will be a hub of campus life and activity and was designed to fit in with the aesthetic and architecture of the campus’ existing buildings. This “ship in a bottle” approach, as described by Drew Hancock, president of Frank L. Blum Construction Company, posed a design challenge, calling for a building that looked like it has been there for decades but that still offered modern design features such as open space and abundant light.

“It was such an honor to design a new building within Salem’s rich architectural fabric. The material palette is time-tested and enduring. We introduced newer materials such as monumental plate glass in subtle ways. This allowed an open feeling not typically found in some of the historic structures, making it truly a building of the present day as well,” said Stuart McCormick, vice president of LAMBERT Architecture + Interiors.

The building merges the contemporary and historic by filling its modern, open spaces with historical pieces. For example, a refurbished chandelier was discovered in an attic and installed in the building, along with historic café benches and student worktables.

The new student center also features grounds designed to include generous outdoor gathering space. Like the interior, the exterior space also blends modern and historical features, including tables with umbrellas and replica gateway columns.

“These achievements have helped us reach and exceed many of our top goals for the Student Center. I am most proud to see the goals of remaining true to our historical roots and creating flexible meeting spaces that provide functionality over time realized. We have found ways to be modern and open in the space, while employing sustainable strategies,” said Anna Gallimore, Director of Administration at Salem Academy and College.

While the student center pays homage to the legacy of the school, it also hearkens to the future and has been registered in the LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) green building certification system published by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).