By Mark Eyerly

Overlooking Easton, the three-story Oechsle Center for Global Education houses programs that focus on different cultures and encourage students to think globally, including the international affairs and Africana studies programs and the Department of Anthropology and Sociology.

Funded by the late Trustee Emeritus Walter Oechsle ’57 and Christa Huber Oechsle, the $10.6 million, 18,400-square-foot building features dynamic, collaborative learning environments. Innovative signature spaces like the Global Studio and Global Salon can be configured in many ways for teaching, learning, and special events. A lecture hall seating 60 people, two classrooms with 40 seats each, and a conference room also add to the College’s inventory of comfortable, well-equipped teaching spaces.

Oechsle Center’s presence on campus underscores Lafayette’s multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to global issues, and it brings the College closer to its goal of incorporating a global perspective into every student’s educational experience.

The center’s common areas—incubators for connections and collaborations—became popular gathering places the day the doors opened and have helped build a greater sense of community and identity among students in international affairs. Economics Professor David Stifel calls the common spaces the building’s most important feature, because that’s where students gather with each other and with faculty “to have conversations that can lead to opportunities.” Other programs on campus contributing to the collaboration include American studies, Asian studies, Italian studies, Latin American and Caribbean studies, and Russian and East European studies.

Architecturally, the building’s transparency is suggestive and representative of its inner life—to promote an enlightened world view, cultivate global citizenship, and encourage engagement across programs and disciplines.

A rich use of materials celebrates the building’s dual local and global identities. The exterior granite was quarried regionally and is a lively and elegant gray hue with varied highlights of tan and blue. Its ashlar pattern ties it to Lafayette College building traditions. Inside, several “global wood walls” celebrate the center’s audacious global aspirations. The reclaimed wood is used based on the population of each continent. The wood was reclaimed from sources as diverse as shipping pallets, winery casks, and rail yards.