Case Study: Hub on Campus Limestone, University of Kentucky
Amid beautiful, horse-dotted hillsides lies historic Lexington, Kentucky. The city, widely regarded as the horse capital of the world, is also known for picturesque scenery, bourbon aficionados, devoted college basketball fans, and the nationally ranked University of Kentucky. With a total enrollment of almost 30,000 students, residence life and housing are crucial elements in the student experience, both on- and off-campus. Lifestyle, amenities, and atmosphere are decisive factors when students are weighing where they will live, study, and entertain for four—or more—important years.
When Core Spaces—an integrated company focused on developing and managing real estate for colleges and universities—began exploring ideas for a new Lexington project, they focused on creating a warm, welcoming, off-campus apartment building that also offered what development manager Brent Pflederer calls “a bit of wow factor.”
When walking into the new, six-story Hub Lexington Limestone apartment building, which opened in August 2020, residents and visitors are greeted with the distinctive design that the developers were hoping to achieve—but almost didn’t.
The Lobby honors Lexington’s equestrian heritage with a playfully sophisticated wink: a carousel horse at the center draws visitors in, while several seating areas encourage gathering and conversation. Soft, worn-in leathers, wood textures, and deep, rich colors add a feeling of warmth and comfort to the large space. The welcome counter feels approachable with its bar seating, and the lower soffit ceiling in the space is thoughtfully done in wood looks to reflect the university’s pastoral surroundings, with hints of red and black plaid reminiscent of a horse blanket—all of which combines to create a cozy, inviting area.
“We knew we wanted to use warm wood looks complemented by a plaid pattern, and the natural evolution was to add visual detail to the soffit,” says Kayce Carter, senior designer, Studio K Creative. However, achieving the three-dimensional effect depicted in the Lobby’s renderings was a bit more challenging. Originally, custom millwork was specified for the wall and soffit detail, but mounting real wood presented significant installation challenges because of its weight. There were also time and budget constraints to consider. The entire building project needed to be complete in 19 months, and the lobby details needed to be finished in a matter of weeks.
DESIGN SOLUTION? SPEC CHANGE!
A decision was quickly made to change the spec to CertainTeed Architectural Continuous Linear Grille, a versatile aluminum ceiling and wall solution that offers convincing wood-look finishes in a variety of veneer or powder coated species and stains—from rich maple and oak to natural cherry and walnut. The lightweight material is also available in a limitless array of solid standard and custom powder-coated colors. For Hub Lexington Limestone, the design team opted for Continuous Linear Grille in 8491 White Oak finish, plus custom 6586 Heartfelt red and 3510 Blacktop colors to match the building’s specific design palette.
Though the center’s aesthetic offers the distinctly natural feel of wood texture, the vertical wall surface and soffit are in fact composed of an innovative metal ceiling and wall product designed specifically to serve as an alternative to wood: CertainTeed Architectural Continuous Linear Grille using Deep Box 2 in a wood-look finish.
The wood look provides a warm focal point for the room, and the red and black accents throughout offer a contemporary spin on the classic plaid design. The project’s interior designer was excited to think vertically in the Lobby’s higher space, while embracing the idea of creating a more intimate, conversational atmosphere.
The shop drawings provided a color-coded diagram for how to install the plaid color pattern and everything had to be cut precisely. In fact, each panel had to be field cut within 1/32" to accurately reflect the design intent. Fortunately, Continuous Linear Grille is an eminently workable product in the field; cutting went smoothly, saving valuable installation time and critical project budget dollars.
Lobby renderings involved intricate design detail. “However,” says Brett Pierce, manager, Wells & Wells Construction Co., the project’s contractor, “installation of the Continuous Linear Grille vertical wall system and soffit detail was simple and straightforward. Everything went smoothly, and we were finished in about two weeks.”
Even with the project’s swift installation speed and the field cutting, the end result precisely replicates the design intent of the Lobby’s rendering.
COMPLETING THE THEME
The equestrian design not only ties into Lexington’s heritage, but also encourages an active, outdoor lifestyle. The warmth of the wood look, plus the eye-catching plaid theme, permeate the building.
Astute eyes will also find the wood and plaid Continuous Linear Grille design adding depth to the ceiling of the second floor Executive Business area. “In this space, the ceiling system’s integrated lighting is featured more prominently,” says Jeff Zelisko, senior principal, Antunovich Associates, the building’s architect. The ceiling system provides a bold, layered design element for the room while being compatible with lighting fixtures necessary for a study space.
The Executive Business area is a quiet work space that offers access to Macs, PCs, and printers, and gives residents a spot to relax and concentrate. An attached interior courtyard complements the biophilic element of the wood look in the space.
The study area is just one of several amenities the building offers student residents. Other notable features include a rooftop pool deck with a fire pit area overlooking Lexington and a state-of-the art fitness center with a sauna and steam room. Enjoying the outdoors, encouraging social gathering, and promoting health and well-being are top priorities of Hub Lexington Limestone’s owners and the building’s designers.
While it is first seen in the Hub Lexington Limestone Lobby’s unique soffit feature, the red and black plaid is also picked up in mosaic tile in common bathroom areas, walk-off mats in the elevator lobbies, a plaid mural painted on the exterior of the penthouse’s elevator lobby at the rooftop pool, and of course, the second-floor study space metal ceiling.
“Every project has its own unique story to tell,” says Carter. “We strive to create a lifestyle for residents that makes them feel special and unique.” The Lobby is the impactful first chapter of Hub Lexington Limestone’s unique story. And the plaid soffit welcome area gives a cozy preface to the building’s warm, sophisticated charm.
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