Adler University’s new campus combines architecture, interior design, wayfinding, branding, signage, and storytelling to communicate its unique curriculum. Offering an alternative to staid suburban campuses, Vancouver’s vital, yet somewhat invisible downtown academic precinct is home to campuses of several universities and language schools in generic towers. Within this raised and hidden context, Adler’s colourful cross section – highly visible and truly connected to the street – was informed by the vertical city, curriculum, and branding.
The university is dedicated to positive change and a just society, through degree programs, training, and community engagement focused on socially responsible practice and offers an immersive curriculum that invites students to solve real-world social problems. To reflect and support this mission, the design of the university is extroverted and iconic, powerfully connecting to the surrounding neighbourhood. Located on the first five floors of a slender glass tower, the interiors are flooded with the university’s brand colours to stand out from its neighbours and to welcome visitors. Seen through the towers’ glass exterior, colour creates a civic scale to a project that would otherwise be just an interior. A continuous student commons is connected vertically and horizontally through five floors with spiral staircases revealing campus-city-campus views. Wayfinding wraps the circulation up and through the public areas of the building while large-scale murals reinforce Adler’s vision and philosophy with illustrative timelines and inspirational quotes from social justice leaders.