Alamance Community College

Advanced Applied Technology Center

Graham, NC

Project Type

Higher Education


52,990 Square Feet

Design Services

Architecture, Brand Experience, Engineering, Interior Architecture


24% increase in enrollment

How might we create an environment where students can not only learn about their fields through the work in front of them, but also in the environment around them?

This philosophy holistically informed our approach to the design of the Advanced Applied Technology Center, which houses five industrial programs: Mechatronics Engineering, Computer-Integrated Machining, Welding, Automotive Systems, and Air Conditioning-Heating-Refrigeration.

Design Awards

  • Rethinking the Future Award
  • USBGC Climate Champion Award
  • AIA Triangle Honor Award


  • Pursuing LEED Platinum

Project Goals

The Advanced Applied Technology Center building is a single-story, open-bay structure in which each program has its own classroom space along with an accompanying lab.

As the campus’ showcase of technical learning and training, we aimed to create an inviting atmosphere that would help attract and retain students. We wanted it to be open and dynamic, a central space to foster community and provide transparency into labs to highlight the advanced technology within and build excitement for prospective students.

  1. Strengthen the Campus
  2. Attract Students
  3. Reduce Construction Costs
  4. Design for Change


The building design philosophy was to reinforce the function of the space as a learning and working environment for students. Every building detail was used to extend this philosophy.

Interior Architecture

Exposed ducts and mechanical systems were to enhance learning for the HVAC program.

Exposed conduit was revealed to demonstrate the proper layout runs for engineers. Accessible welded joints were used to exhibit proper welding for machinists. Design details like these were integrated through the center, providing diverse and tactile learning moments across programs.


The center’s programs require wide open spaces with few columns and easy access to building systems for upgrades and modifications.

Many of the program functions require the use of round shapes from the piston in automotive systems to rods and washers used in HVAC work. This fundamental shape influenced the selection of the structural systems. Beams, columns, and lateral system were sculpted to reinforce the functions that are performed in the spaces.

“The impression upon walking into the building is impressive, as one is immediately aware of it being a beautiful state-of-the-art facility. It is inviting, from the artwork to the functionality of the space.”
– Dr. Algie Gatewood

President at Alamance Community College


In its first year of operation, the center has seen enrollment increases of 24%.

The integrated design approach, along with close collaboration across the Little team and partners at Alamance Community College, has set a new standard for technical learning and training in the region.

An Equitable Community

The Advanced Applied Technology Center showcases technical training, applies real-life simulation, maximizes learning experiences, and prepares students for careers in highly specialized fields, which, in turn, supports the high demand for specialized workforce training, and benefits the local economy of Graham, NC.

  • 24% Increase in student enrollment in the first year.
  • 50% Reduction in energy use compared to average classroom.

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