Association News

Six campuses receive the 2010 ACUI Facility Design Award of Excellence
March 15, 2010

NEW YORK CITY — The ACUI Facility Design Awards recognize excellence in design of college unions as well as other student-centered campus buildings. Entries were judged not only on the basis of the facilities’ appearance, but also on the process used to arrive at the design and how the new or renovated facility affected the campus. Six recipients were at the ACUI annual conference in New York City:

  • KSS Architects  –  Richard and Margot Warch Campus Center, Lawrence University
  • Mackey Mitchell Architects – Student Success Center, Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville
  • Opsis Architecture  – Interactive Learning Center, Boise State University
  • Sasaki Associates Inc.  – The Commons, Bates College
  • SmithGroup – Smith Campus Center, Pomona College
  • WTW Architects – Joe Crowley Student Union, University of Nevada–Reno

Twenty-one years in the making, the Richard and Margot Warch Campus Center “has greatly enhanced the overall experience” on the Lawrence University campus, according to Director Gregory Griffin. The building boasts a cinema, 24-hour student lounges, and LEED Gold certification.

KSS Architects Partner Pamela Lucas Rew said enhancing the campus experience was indeed their goal. “We set out to create a project that would fulfill their mission and long-term and day-to-day expectations,” she said. “From this, we developed architectural goals to knit together the campus, the site, and the adjacent river into a building that communicates these ideas as well as serves the institution’s functional needs.”

Both Rew and Griffin appreciate receiving the ACUI Facility Design Award. “The award is about more than design; it shows us that our client loves their building,” said Rew.

The new Student Success Center at Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville “promotes a culture of student success by bringing a comprehensive support system, state-of-the-art learning resources, and small group learning communities together in one central location,” said Mackey Mitchell Architects Senior Associate Kathy Ulkus.

An addition to the existing Morris University Center, the Student Success Center features a student lounge, coffee bar, naturally lit spaces, and a sustainable design. Mackey Mitchell Architects are honored to receive this recognition.

“We consider it a tremendous honor to have [ACUI] recognize the collaboration that occurred among the Mackey Mitchell Architects design team and the university to create the Student Success Center,” said John Burse, principal at Mackey Mitchell Architects.  

According to Opsis Architects, “the goal of the Boise State University Interactive Learning Center was to create a new type of campus community that brought together academic and social spaces into one interactive and dynamic setting,” said Stephanie Lore, marketing director. Student Union Director Jack Rahmann believes this goal was achieved.

“The Interactive Learning Center is like no other building on campus and serves as a destination where faculty, students, and staff can easily connect with one another,” he said. “This building fosters interaction among students, between students and instructors, and among faculty members. The facility has numerous gathering spaces and the classrooms are open and integrated with the rest of the building.”

About the Facility Design Award, Rahmann said: “Boise State is honored to be recognized for a facility that goes beyond traditional concepts and meets the 21st century learning, technology, and community needs of its students.”

Through The Commons, a new dining facility at Bates College, Sasaki Associates, Inc. were able to enhance the feeling of community on campus.

“The dining facility had always been the center of student interaction,” said Christine Schwartz, director of dining. “In a nutshell, the new facility has significantly improved not only the quality of the food and work environment for the dining staff, but also, more importantly, provided a space where the campus community can come together as one.”

Sustainable features included cutting the building’s energy consumption by 25 percent from a typical code-compliant facility as well as using salvaged wood and local materials.

“Bates College and Sasaki shared the goal of making a truly sustainable facility—from construction and materials to operations and the food itself,” said Olga Bazhenova, Sasaki Associates marketing coordinator.   
“We were thrilled that ACUI recognized the efforts and results of our teamwork on the creation of the dining commons.”

When cost cutting measures on campus prevented the Smith Campus Center on the Pomona College campus to be truly complete during original construction in 1999, the facility failed to attract and serve the campus community. The recent renovations by SmithGroup corrected this problem by turning five separate meeting rooms into one large social area, moving a games room located on the second floor to the ground level, and turning unfinished social space in the basement into a nightclub-like area. The success of these and other changes are found in the student response.

“The most visible sign that what we did worked was the clamor from students to extend building hours and the desire by the faculty and staff to reserve spaces that were previously only used by students,” said Neil Gerard, director.

The changes were not only rewarded by the campus response to the building, but also the recognition of the ACUI Facility Design Award.

“I was elated to learn we had been honored with this award,” Principal Architect Mark McVay said. “It’s a testament to the creativity, intelligence, and courage of our design, construction, and campus teams.”

When designing the 167,000-square-foot Joe Crowley Student Union at the University of Nevada–Reno, WTW Architects wanted to provide “a place for students to congregate, socialize, recreate, and build community,” said Senior Principal Richard Bamburak.

Features of the new facility include a bookstore, space for clubs and organizations, conference rooms, a 1,000-seat multipurpose ballroom, and a 220-seat movie theater. Many sustainable aspects were also incorporated into the construction and design, the first building on the campus to do so.

“The Joe Crowley Student Union has completely changed the campus,” said Director Chuck Price. “Traffic patterns have been amended to incorporate the new center of campus with the union at the heart of it. The new union has been a major step towards accomplishing President Glick’s vision of more ‘sticky campus.’”

Both long-standing members of ACUI, WTW Architects and the University of Nevada–Reno were honored to receive the Facility Design Award.

“We are always very proud of the Facility Design Award since it is given by the Association on behalf of its constituents,” said Bamburak. “Although we have received many other types of awards throughout our history, it is always gratifying to know that our work is recognized by the people for whom the project was created.”


Martha J. Blood
ACUI Director of Corporate Partnerships

About ACUI

Founded in 1914, ACUI serves those working in college unions and student activities on campuses worldwide. Its members include administrators, professional staff, student employees, student organization leaders, graduate students, and companies. 



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