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Separated by Light

Process—————15 April 2015

Last year, Gallaudet University asked Studio Twenty Seven Architecture to propose a solution to an unexpected problem. Deaf language and culture are, above all, visual; and normally at Gallaudet we try to encourage communication and connection across spaces. But in one building, Gallaudet wanted to do the opposite. The Ballard North residence hall was being transformed into a dormitory for high school students from the Model Secondary School for the Deaf. The building’s iconic four-story atrium was a safety and disciplinary liability. Gallaudet wanted a solution that divided the atrium in two, separating the boys on the bottom two floors from the girls above. Studio Twenty Seven Architecture proposed a “Light Cloud,” a playful arrangement of light-filled wooden boxes that hover between floors. The light cloud is now complete, and serving its function well. The atrium, remarkably, still feels like an atrium. Each side of the cloud feels connected to the space on its opposite. The cloud functions as both a wall and a window, letting light and air pass through, but without the possibility of a student above seeing a student below.

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