Association News

Six campuses receive the 2011 ACUI Facility Design Award of Excellence
March 1, 2011

CHICAGO — The ACUI Facility Design Award of Excellence recognizes 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 Chicago:

  • AC Martin and University of Southern California, Ronald Tutor Campus Center
  • Cannon Design and the California State University–Dominguez Hills, Loker Student Union expansion and renovation
  • Cannon Design and the University of California–San Diego, Price Center East expansion
  • MHTN Architects, Inc. and Black Hills State University, Student Union addition and renovation
  • Sasaki Associates, Inc. and the University of Arizona, Student Recreation Center expansion
  • WTW Architects and Texas A&M University–Commerce, Sam Rayburn Student Center

The Ronald Tutor Campus Center at the University of Southern California provided the university community with its first real gathering space for the “Trojan family,” said Senior Associate Dean of Students Patrick Bailey. “The Campus Center has created that central gathering space where all members of our family come together to meet, mix, mingle, and celebrate.”

Designed by AC Martin, the 193,000-square-foot building is located in the heart of campus. The design of the Campus Center, according to Design Principal David Martin, Project Designer Tammy Jow, and Project Director Bob Murrin, “celebrates collegiality, centrality, and student-centric amenities. The Campus Center has transformed the campus and has become the true center.”

Both Bailey and the team from AC Martin are thrilled to receive the Facility Design Award of Excellence.
“We feel the design of the Ronald Tutor Campus Center has received this honor since it exemplifies a true spirit of collaboration between the university communities, the architect, and the contractor,” Martin, Jow, and Murrin said. “The Facility Design Award symbolizes a true mark of success for our work with the University of Southern California.”

The renovated and expanded Donald P. and Katherine B. Loker Student Union opened in January 2007. California State University–Dominguez Hills and Cannon Design worked together to create a building that could service the growing commuter campus.

“The project doubled the original square footage and completely renovated the existing space in a unifying fashion,” said Executive Director Kim Clark. “The campus has reacted in a very positive, supportive, and appreciative way to the improvements and has once again reclaimed the center of campus as the heart of the campus.”

The union is now 137,000-square-feet and acts as “a gathering place for the campus community and a home for programs, services, and facilities that serve students, faculty, staff, alumni, visitors, and the surrounding community. The union is also now the desired ‘face’ for the university,” said Cannon Design Communications Manager Lisa Anthon.

Being recognized for the improved Loker Student Union holds special meaning for Clark as well as Cannon Design Principal Craig A. Hamilton.

“Recognition for this project is particularly significant because the combination of site, program, and campus needs created a unique opportunity,” Hamilton said. “As designers, we knew the right architectural solution would significantly contribute to the campus’s transformation. We believe we achieved this solution and are grateful for the recognition by ACUI.”

Cannon Design was also honored for its work on the Price Center East at the University of California–San Diego. According to Anthon, the original Price Center, opened in 1989, was an introverted design, offering a central courtyard bordered on three sides. The new design is extroverted as it has “multiple entry points, plazas, and monumental staircases,” she said. “The expanded facility made a major contribution in changing the student life experience by creating multiple indoor and outdoor opportunities for social engagement, more student spaces and more food, retail, and entertainment choices for the campus.”

The Price Center East is now a 24-hour union, offering study, lounge, and dining areas around the clock. The changes to the building resulted in a 40 percent increase in food sales and 50 percent increase in meeting room use, said Director Paul Terzino.

“ACUI understands what we do and how we do it, which makes this award all the more important,” he added. “Cannon Design, Craig Hamilton, and Mehrdad Yazdani did a wonderful job of listening to the campus Building Advisory Committee and developing a design that met our needs.”

Black Hills State University desired “to create a student-centered and vibrant living and learning environment that supports students’ experiences which foster involvement, leadership, civic engagement, and campus unity,” said Director of Student Services Jane Klug. And the renovated and expanded Student Union met that goal. “Our student union reflects the feeling of comfort and the concept of excellence by means of the design and architecture of the facility,” she said. “The students love their student union!”

MHTN Architects, Inc. designed the building, ensuring the needs of the campus community were met as well as that the new building would be LEED certified.

“The highlight of the project was how well this facility has been received by the campus community as well as the community at large,” said MHTN Architects Principal Kyle Taft. “As the ‘happening’ place on campus, students are constantly using the spaces before and after class as well as to organize for student government, student activities, and student organizations.”

Klug said the union is “extremely honored and proud” to have received this award. Taft agreed: “MHTN feels grateful that we could make such a significant contribution to Black Hills State University as well as the Spearfish community. Making a positive difference in peoples’ lives is what it is all about. The reports from campus indicate it is exceeding expectations in positively affecting peoples’ lives.”

Sasaki Associates, Inc. and the University of Arizona worked together on the 54,000-square-foot expansion of the Student Recreation Center. The expansion helped to improve the center’s offerings, which include a fitness center, outdoor adventures, a multi-use activity court gym, as well as outdoor spaces, such as rock-climbing, sand volleyball courts, and outdoor fitness areas.

“Since we opened the facility in January 2010, we have witnessed unprecedented growth in our programs,” said Director Mark Zakrzewski. “Some of our programs, such as group fitness and personal training, have been up as much as 50–100 percent in participation.”

Zakrzewski is “extremely proud” to have the Student Recreation Center honored with this award.

“It is truly a testament to the spirit of collaboration, innovation, and the highest standards in planning, design, and construction,” he said.

The Sam Rayburn Student Center, according to Director of the Center for Applied Leadership Rick Miller, “is an example of how a space on campus can bring people together.”

Designed by WTW Architects, Texas A&M University–Commerce’s new union was created to be a destination that would offer retail, dining, entertainment, services, meeting space, and more for the campus community—all within one building at the center of campus. And that goal was achieved, said Miller, who believes receiving the Facility Design Award of Excellence “validates” the participation of students, faculty, and staff in the “collaborative design” process.

“Increased attendance at meetings and participation in events were immediately noticed,” Miller said. “The one thing that really stands out to me is the pride and ‘ownership’ that students have for the Sam Rayburn Student Center. They love to show it to visitors, host groups, and have it be their second home. The new facility is truly ‘The Center’ on campus.”

Download a PDF of the press release here.


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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