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Gallaudet University celebrated the opening of its newest residence hall and collaboration space, Living and Learning Residence Hall 6 (LLRH6), on August 17. The building includes architectural design concepts known as DeafSpace, which emphasizes community building, visual language, and the promotion of personal safety and well-being. LLRH6 is Gallaudet’s second DeafSpace building.

The DeafSpace Project began on Gallaudet’s campus in 2005 and involved a cross-section of students, staff, and faculty. The group developed DeafSpace Guidelines, a catalogue of more than 150 distinct architectural design elements that address the five major touch points between deaf experiences and the built environment: space and proximity, sensory reach, mobility and proximity, light and color, and acoustics.

Gallaudet’s first DeafSpace structure, the Sorenson Language and Communication Center, opened in 2008.

“DeafSpace codifies ideas and a way of thinking that is embedded in deaf experiences,” said Hansel Bauman, director of campus design and planning at Gallaudet.”At its heart, LLRH6 expresses the unique deaf ways of being. The building was designed to facilitate both planned and spontaneous forms of communication. We created the environment in a way that fosters interaction and self-expression.”

LLRH6 is 60,000 square feet, with five floors, and 175 beds. Common areas will be open to the campus community. Creating a comfortable atmosphere was vital to the project.

“Throughout the design process for LLRH6, the concept of the residence hall as a home has been critical and as a community, we have come together to define what this means,” said Susan Hanrahan, director of residence life at Gallaudet. “We will continue to deepen the sense of home in LLRH6, on campus, and with the greater Washington, D.C., community.”

“LLRH6 gives Gallaudet University students a space where they can live, study, and collaborate in a new way,” said Gallaudet University President T. Alan Hurwitz. “The building’s design encourages interaction and fosters a strong sense of community. Innovations, such as LLRH6, are the reason why Gallaudet is the leader in education for deaf and hard of hearing people.”

Sustainability is a key component of LLRH6. It uses a geothermal heating and cooling system, a natural source of renewable energy. The building includes water-saving and high efficiency fixtures, recycled and regional content and materials, and mechanical (HVAC), electric, and plumping systems installed with a focus on efficiency and controllability. LLRH6’s sustainable design strategies will be used to obtain LEED Silver Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Gallaudet University, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf and hard of hearing individuals through American Sign Language and English. Gallaudet maintains a proud tradition of research and scholarly activity and prepares its graduates for career opportunities in a highly competitive, technological, and rapidly changing world.

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