America for Bulgaria Student Center

Contracting Authority
American University in Bulgaria

Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

Period of implementation
June 2011- October 2013
Glavbolgarstroy’s role in the project
Prime contractor
Nature of works

Construction and Installation Works, Finishing Works

Technical characteristics

The construction of the America for Bulgaria Student Center is an important step towards the completion of the construction program of the American University in Bulgaria and the creation of a state-of-art campus that answers all the requirements for contemporary buildings.

The design of the building complies with the traditional American model of Liberal Arts education characterized with residential type of living of students in a modern University campus.

The America for Bulgaria Student Center of the American University in Bulgaria is a unique multifunctional building that integrates various program elements into one. Its construction was made possible with the generous support of America for Bulgaria Foundation.

The sports part of the building houses the multifunctional sports hall, fitness center and adjacent locker rooms. A running track is located at the upper level of the sports hall – a unique solution designed for a first time in Bulgaria. The sports hall is the most modern facility of this type in an educational institution in Europe and fulfills all standards and requirements for such hall. The retractable telescopic seats allow the reconfiguration of the hall and its use for different occasions – sports events, performances, public lectures, fairs, exhibitions, forums and various others.

Other focal point of the building is the University theatre. It offers a capacity of 350 seats and consists of stage, advance stage, side pockets and full stage mechanization that include mechanically and manually driven props lifts, light girders and bridges, movable screen, main curtain, cullis, etc. The theatre hall provides excellent visibility and perfect natural acoustics. It has stage illumination, sound system, projection system, light signalization and stage master. Immediately to the stage, the dressing rooms, a cloak-room and props set storages together with a prop workshop are located. The design of the stage and the advance stage allows their usage as a big lecture hall.

The Student Center also accommodates the Dining Services. They are located at three different levels – basement, ground floor and last floor and are interconnected with independent lift. The basement level houses the storages, refrigeration chambers, preparation areas and working facilities. The cafeteria with a capacity for 200 is located at the ground floor. It is opened to the park of the campus through wooden deck terraces. The main dining facility for 400 customers is located at the last floor. It represents the contemporary concept of food preparation in front of the customers and is organized in focal groups – salad bar, Italian stand, desert stand, barista, etc. A magnificent covered terrace offers a wonderful view to the river, Rila Mountains and the University campus.

Additionally, the building houses some offices of Student Services – the Career Center, Academic Advising Center, Writing Center, etc.

The exterior design of the building aims to placing the building within the frame of the Skaptopara Campus. Through skillful desegmentation, the use of various materials and a rhythmic exterior treatment, the visual scale of the building is reduced. The distinct creation of an image, character and identity of the contemporary academic institution is sought through the means of the modern academic architecture.

The effective utilization of the land property called for a solution with an extreme depth of the building. This is the reason the design had to provide a natural light penetration as deep into the building as possible. The designer’s central staircase is located under the roof skylights. With its elegant and functional design is allows quick access to all building zones, lets the natural light deep into the building and offer natural ventilation at the same time.

Constructively, the building is also an achievement – various innovative solutions have been implemented in it. A complete synthesis between constructive solution and design concept is reached. Some of the most interesting decisions are the console running track in the sports’ hall, the floor constructions of the vast supported areas in the theatre to include the most modern measuring of vibrations; the hanging terrace of the main dining hall; the suspension and tensioning of the central stair to minimum cross-sections of the structure, the maximum transmittance of the daylight and the elimination of the vibrations, etc.

Applied are several decisions that aim to minimizing the energy consumption. They start from the level of architectural shaping – by careful design of the holes in the facade, installation of sunscreen optical principle in certain windows, use of glass with selective coatings for the ventilated facades with high insulation, maximum reuse of daylight design, natural ventilation controlled by BMS ; “free cooling” regime, use of waste heat for production of domestic hot water, triple pipe heat pump system of direct evaporation of the latest generation characterized by extremely low operating costs and the ability to transfer energy from heated up southwestern facade to the cold northeast facade during the intermediate seasons, and more.