Education Project & Program Management

Gallaudet University

James L. Sorenson Language and Communication Center


Washington, D.C.
$23.3M Managed Project Costs
Cost Consultancy, Inspection, Constructability Reviews, Construction Administration and Construction Management

Gallaudet University’s $32 million James L. Sorenson Language and Communication Center provides deaf students and university faculty with classrooms, computer laboratories, a television studio, clinics, libraries and office space. Among the departments housed in the 87,700 square foot facility are American Sign Language and deaf studies; hearing, speech and language sciences; visual language and visual learning (VL2); linguistics; and communication studies.

A defining piece of the new center is its landmark “visu-centric” design—an innovative approach that provides a heightened visual experience, creating open views and clear visual sightlines critical for deaf student learning, communication and navigation. In addition to the visu-centric design criteria, the team was tasked with designing the facility to a LEED® Certification level. Design phase activities focused on assisting the project team with its goals of creating a groundbreaking educational facility, while still meeting the project budget and achieving LEED® Certification.
The interior of the center contains unobstructed balconies, glass elevators, curved walls to enhance visibility at intersections, corridors that widen to respond to sight lines and an amphitheater-style seating area in the main atrium where people can see and be seen. Other deaf-focused elements are non-glare lighting positioned to illuminate the instructor from the front so signing is easily seen; powerful speaker systems to encourage reverberation; fritted window glass in the atrium to reduce glare; telephone access technologies such as video, text relay services and closed captioning; collaboration spaces; and open, flexible classrooms that enhance visual access.