Discovery Park South Gateway, Purdue University

Discovery Park South Gateway: Purdue University

In the fourteen years since it began as an "idea", Purdue's Discovery Park has become an acclaimed center  for interdisciplinary research, learning, and technology transfer.   Established in 2001, it has since developed into a complex of eight discipline-based centers representing a combined investment approaching $1 billion. And Discovery Park's contribution to the identity of the university as a 21st century institution, as well as its own unique identity and sense of place has now been established with the recent completion of this South Gateway. 

Storrow|Kinsella prepared the now implemented site development plans for Hockmeyer Hall of Structural Biology in 2009. Those plans looked beyond the project's construction limits to envision how it might contribute to a larger gateway concept.  

In 2012, based on that prescience, Storrow|Kinsella was commissioned to prepare a master plan and design and construction documents for consolidating the Hockmeyer Hall site and that of its neighbor across Jischke Drive, the Hall for Discovery Learning and Research, into a new South Gateway from a new perimeter parkway for both Discovery Park and the overall campus . The design process established a master plan for the gateway area that met multiple objectives: reconcile pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular traffic issues anticipated once the parkway was completed; resolve drainage issues at this end-point of the overall campus storm drainage system; and most importantly, establish an experiential sense of arrival into Discovery Park from the new perimeter road and from major parking facilities along this campus edge.

The master plan guided the detailed design, construction documents and construction observation through the $1 million project’s completion in late 2014. It is now complete (except for the deferred gateway wayfinding signage). The landscape, a functional and sustainable ecosystem, is young but already hinting at its impact as it matures over the next several years.  


Think beyond the immediate program to consider the next scale of context. Understand the institution's larger and sometimes implicit goals. Probe into the wisdom of the many stakeholders and empower that wisdom by simply listening and observing. Purdue's planning, facilities and grounds staff possess incredible knowledge and skills that contributed to the success of this project and that informed the design process on a continuum that bridged conventional project stages.


Hockmeyer Hall's massing and form relationship to its site context derived from an active collaborative process between Storrow|Kinsella and building architect Moody Nolan.  The sense of interior/exterior space forming a  coherent place rather than one being an add-on to the other was an intentional outcome. The sequences of campus setting, arrival and entrance, as well as creation of space for both collegial gatherings and personal respite provided a  logic for the building's articulations and massing.  The circular entrance plazas for both Hockmeyer and the Discovery Center and their materials palette provide a unifying context that reflects the interdisciplinary collaboration between Discovery Park entities.   The linked multiple raingardens further integrate the sense of the two buildings defining a place, the entry to Discovery Park and the larger campus beyond. Those raingardens, in addition to their spatial qualities, address site stormwater containment and groundwater recharge, but are also intended to ultimately receive the two buildings' roof stormwater discharge as a future initiative and as a model for campus-wide consideration. The native perennial plantings of the raingardens constitute a low-maintenance reduction of mown turf areas.


Pedestrian and bicycle "desire lines" between major parking areas and the two gateway buildings, and between the buildings themselves, intentionally avoid  the straight line "cow paths" that proliferate in traditional campus settings.  Instead those desire lines are translated into sweeping arcs that delineate the linked raingarden spatial volumes while guiding users in a seemingly direct path to protected crosswalks and destinations beyond. The brick circular crosswalk plazas extend the building entry plaza theme further while providing a "negotiation" area for bicyclists and pedestrians converging on the crosswalks.

Project Team

Purdue University
Physical Facilities Business Office

Prime Consultant/Site Design:
Storrow Kinsella Associates

Electrical Engineering Subconsultant:
Loftus Engineering

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