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Guilford Technical Community College

Jamestown, NC

Transforming the Heart of Campus—and the Community

VIDEO Transforming the Heart of Guilford Tech Community College 

If you head along East Main Street from downtown Jamestown, North Carolina, you’ll quickly arrive upon one of state’s largest community colleges, Guilford Technical Community College.

The main campus of six throughout Guilford County, GTCC’s Jamestown location serves 7,000 students on a daily basis. At the middle of the Jamestown campus is the Medlin Campus Center, the home for the student union and all of the college’s administrative functions, from student services to the registrar’s office to financial services.

In many ways, it’s the heart of the campus. But since the Medlin Campus Center was constructed in the early 1970s, it began to show its age as the college continued to grow and thrive over the years.

So, the school undertook a massive renovation of the center in 2018 with the goal of turning it into a “wow” factor for the campus. Today, the Medlin Campus Center is a vibrant, welcoming space for the community and a symbol of GTCC pride.

Giving the College a Fresh First Impression

In addition to serving as the operational core of the school, the Medlin Campus Center was the first space new students encountered on campus. For school leadership, that served as a significant motivation for the center’s renovation. They wanted to refresh the “face” of the college as much as its heart.

“It’s a very critical building to the campus,” said Mitchell Johnson, vice president of operations and facilities at GTCC. “But it was just beat up, so it was kind of our worst foot forward.”

The renovation stripped the building down to its original structure and completely transformed every space within it.

The first floor houses the school bookstore, a café area, an open lounge and social and study spaces for students. The perimeter is lined with glass-enclosed study rooms. The second and third floors host student services, where students can register for classes, meet with academic advisors or consult with financial services. The fourth floor includes glass-walled offices for the college president, vice president and other administrators.

Finally, the renovation connected the formerly separate “annex” to the main building, where the college’s testing center and event spaces are located.

It's radically different. It really feels like a completely new building.

- Mitchell Johnson, vice president of operations and facilities, GTCC

Creating a Welcoming Space that Pulls You In

To transform the campus center into the bustling heart of campus, the GTCC team prioritized making it accessible in terms of its physical layout and ambience.

Upon arriving through the main entrance, visitors have their choice of inviting places to sit. Groups of four stylish Calida lounge chairs encircling around Athens tables create café-style seating areas. Close by, pairs of cozy Sway lounge chairs are perfect for individual study or one-on-one conversations. As students walk further into the space, they can grab a spot along curved MyPlace lounge furniture which is woven throughout the expansive space, providing intuitive divisions along the open floorplan.

The unique curves of this custom lounge seating—created in partnership with Infinity From KI—were specifically designed to offer a softer, more rounded profile to create the welcoming, comfortable aesthetic that GTCC desired. This gently cascading design also gracefully complemented the soft curves of Calida lounge chairs.

In further partnership with KI, school administrators redesigned the center’s common spaces to encourage students to study, meet up or just hang out.

Now, students have their pick of well-lit, spacious gathering areas on multiple floors. On the first floor, Calida lounge chairs are paired with MyPlace lounge furniture and Athens tables to seating nooks between architectural columns. In central open spaces, students can come together in groups to spread out project materials at Serenade gathering tables with Apply café stools.

It's a great, calming environment. It really offers a coffeehouse atmosphere.

- Berri Cross, director of student life, GTCC

On the same floor, the student union is enclosed with Lightline architectural walls, ensuring that its casual meeting spaces and individual study rooms feel open and bright while offering a barrier to noise from the common areas. The space is equipped with upholstered Doni chairs around square Pillar tables for group work as well as sofa-style MyWay lounge seating with occasional tables.

Outside of student services offices on the second and third floors, students can read or work in a host of reception-style areas, complete with Affina lounge seating and occasional tables. The wooden details are carried throughout the building via wood-leg Connection Zone workbench computer stations with integrated privacy screens. Paired with Oath task chairs, they offer a place for students to charge their laptops and work independently.

The GTCC team intentionally incorporated power into various pieces of furniture to ensure students could power their devices wherever they are in the building. Power is included in Hub modular seating, Connection Zone worksurfaces and MyPlace lounge furniture. 

At another entrance, students can gather outdoors at emerald green Promenade seating modified to hold umbrellas, providing students protection from the sun.

We love the space. We love this renovation. Our heartbeat is truly here in Medlin Campus Center. We're very excited about it.

- Berri Cross, director of student life, GTCC

Opening Up and Letting the Light In

As the original Medlin Campus Center building was expanded over the years to accommodate school growth, many areas became cramped and more dim as the center ran out of space. The GTCC team knew that natural daylighting would help “wow” every student, staff member and visitor who walked into the new center.

Sunlight streams in through the glass-front building and is allowed to permeate deep into the space due to the use of glass finishes in Lightline architectural wall storefronts and Unite panels with glass toppers as well as in other elements such as staircase banisters.

It's a very different building. KI's wall system was critical to our ability to make that vision come across the way we wanted it to.

- Mitchell Johnson, vice president of operations and facilities, GTCC

Lightline walls also brighten up the campus center’s assessment lab, where the thought of an exam may otherwise be daunting for students. The glass walls allow staff to keep an eye on students from afar while giving them the space to focus. Soft-close pivot-hinged doors can be opened and closed without disruption during the middle of a test.

On the fourth floor, the administration outfitted faculty offices with a combination of Evoke and Lightline walls. Film was applied to the glass panels to provide privacy and still allow light to penetrate. Elegant Aristotle desks are paired with sleek Altus task chairs. Nearby, separate Aristotle drawers and bookshelves offer extra storage, while Affina guest chairs provide a comfortable perch for guests.

The use of glass among the offices made them feel more spacious and changed the overall atmosphere. “People seem to be a lot happier,” Johnson added. “The openness makes the offices feel like a better place to be.”

A New Refuge for Students

Guilford Technical Community College has so much to offer, and its new Medlin Campus Center embodies that stirring, exciting energy. Student interest in the campus dramatically increased due to the well-planned variety of spaces for students to relax, study, gather and collaborate.

It's wonderful to see how many students are coming to the building as a refuge, which was not the case before. They really value this space. They come and hang out, do homework and meet with friends. It really has transcended what we expected.

- Mitchell Johnson, vice president of operations and facilities, GTCC

The renovated Medlin Campus Center is spacious, bright and welcoming. Everyone from new students registering for their first classes to longtime staff can find their place at the heart of the GTCC campus.

"We wanted people to come into the building and stop and literally say, 'Wow,'" said Johnson. "I think we achieved that."

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