LOCATION:          University of Puerto Rico - Río Piedras Campus, San Juan, Puerto Rico
PROJECT AREA: 60,000 SF      
2010 - AIA Honor Awards - Florida Caribbean Chapter
Honor Award of Excellence for New Work
2004 - AIA Honor Awards - PR Chapter
Honor Award - Unbuilt Project
2009 - XI Bienal de Arquitectura y Arquitectura Paisajista 
Honor Award - Built Work
AAA  060 - Archivos de Arquitectura Antillana
Located in the Northeast quadrant of the university’s campus, the General Studies School has served as threshold to thousands of students since the late 1960s. A constantly growing student population called for a substantial addition to the existing general studies faculty building, which was also remodeled by Toro Arquitectos in 2006. The addition is a four-story reinforced concrete annex building which forms part of a new Master Plan and marks a new entrance to the eastern edge of the Campus. Its east façade includes a monumental sculpture, designed with local artist Nayda Collazo, in colored perforated aluminum that provides sun and hurricane protection. Bas-relief concrete walls with punched openings allow breezes and light to filter through and recall the pattern of the sunscreen. The new building’s ground floor is a multi-functional open space adaptable to the wide needs of this faculty. Levels two and three contain classrooms oriented to the tree-filled quad to the west, while faculty offices behind the colorful sunscreen are oriented to the campus entry to the east. A fourth level contains the bulk of mechanical spaces.
All levels and both sides of the building are unified by a multi-level sky-lit gallery which serves not only as a place to meet but has a very important climatic role as it funnels cooling breezes throughout the building creating a chimney effect. The selection of materials, such as exposed reinforced concrete and aluminum louvered windows, responds to local market conditions. The local construction labor force is well skilled in those materials allowing aluminum extrusions to be manufactured near San Juan. Concrete is the local material of choice for seismic and extreme tropical weather conditions. Custom designed colored concrete benches, designed by architect Maruja Fuentes, complement the sober exposed concrete palette.