FSU Student Union

Tallahassee, Florida

The newly constructed Student Union has reenergized student life at the University. Replacing the former student union complex, the new Student Union is a significant upgrade in size, quality, and variety of space, amenities, and services. The highly utilized student-focused facility has quickly regained its position as the primary hub for campus activity. At approximately 269,000 gross square feet, the multidisciplinary building provides a variety of student and faculty space types, such as offices for Student Government, Greek Life, and various administrative office suites and highly dynamic student-focused spaces such as lounges and study niches on varying levels, flexible meeting rooms and a large multi-purpose ballroom, all with a focus of promoting student interaction. Large segments of the building are dedicated to the promotion of student interaction and gathering lounge and study spaces; flexible meeting rooms and dividable multi-purpose ballroom; plus retail spaces, including the new campus bookstore, shops and dining venues with their associated support spaces such as kitchens, delivery and storage areas. The Student Union includes a bowling and billiard center, a nightclub, an art center, elevated porches, and outdoor activity areas, landscaped and hardscaped, such as those found on the new Union Green and the most extensive green roof at the University. With design features such as superior visibility, the melding of indoor and outdoor space, creative engineering systems, and a contemporary interpretation of the University’s architectural design guidelines, the Student Union provides the ultimate student experience. (Design collaboration with Workshop Architects.)

Florida State University
$126 million
269,000 SF
The facility has quickly become a hub of student life, providing spaces for a variety of student activities, student government, multi-purpose ballrooms, support kitchens, Greek life, student lounge and study space, flexible meeting spaces, retail and dining spaces, exterior plazas and elevated porches. The southernmost entrance, the ‘South Porch,’ spills onto an extensive green roof plaza bordered by luscious landscape and tall live oak trees. Treatment of the building’s massing, proportions, and masonry detailing pay homage to the campus’s historic Collegiate Gothic buildings. The forward-thinking, timeless design celebrates the school’s history, traditions, and unique campus identity while creating a distinguishable gathering place for the campus to enjoy for decades to come.
The new Student Union carries forward the brick and cast stone palette established by the existing Collegiate Gothic buildings of the campus core and incorporates thoughtful brick and stone details throughout the design. A sophisticated, monumental tower placed at the termination of a busy pedestrian corridor capitalizes the entrance to the Student Union. It offers a visual beacon traversing students, visible across campus viewsheds. The ceremonial entry leads into a welcome area and monumental social stairs. Careful attention was given to articulating the tower’s stone and brickwork, from the stout yet inviting brick base to the accessible second-floor tower balcony to the stacked delicate brick screen at the cornice.
Vires, Artes, and Mores (Latin for Strength, Skill, and Character) are represented through text and three renowned torches in the university's seal. In commemorating the school's values and the three torches, the design team incorporated three side-by-side 45-degree rotated bricks stacked into vertical reveals on each of the gable ends of the building. The three vertical datum lines subtly reference the three torches accentuated onto each prominent façade. The depth of the reveals, stone banding, and punched brick accent panels create dynamic shadow lines as the sun passes across each façade. The expression of shadow casting offers constantly changing visual interest, highlighting memorable moments and patterns seen at different times of the day.
The interior's centerpiece is the soaring atrium that evokes a sense of grandeur while providing an overwhelming sense of openness and enclosure. The facility is designed to foster collaboration at every corner by offering open common areas, student-centered association spaces, informal gathering zones and unique leisure activity environments, such as a bowling alley and on-campus bar. The first floor, entered from three different sides, is home to the Gathering Space. This light-filled atrium is a vibrant hub for student activity, study spaces, student amenities and services, and congregation areas. The four-level space is interrupted by cantilevered balconies and bridges, connecting students to all building parts at multiple levels. The structural systems were carefully designed to minimize columns and visual barriers, ensuring a constant visual connection from higher and lower spaces in the room.
The dining hall serves as a social hub for the university, with casual and intimate dining areas with direct access to outdoor green spaces, providing places for casual encounters and structured communication. The new Student Union offers a large Food Hall with recognizable national brands and a few local options. Each features open kitchens, fresh food options, and varied and flexible seating configurations where diners can sit for a few minutes or hours. A new sports grille allows fans to dine and watch the school's sports teams compete or stop by for lunch or dinner. It is worth noting that the design of all food operation spaces required close coordination with Business Services and the food service vendors to verify each area's design and intent and confirm that program requirements and equipment specifications were met.
The upper level houses a dynamic, interactive meeting space for student government, lined with glass walls to offer views through the building and outward toward campus. Offices for Student Government, Greek Life, various administrative office suites, student-focused spaces such as lounges, and study niches are clustered in the upper levels of the north wing. Flexible meeting rooms of varying capacities, break-out meeting spaces, and corridor alcoves foster social interaction in this unique multidisciplinary facility. The building has the latest mechanical, electrical, plumbing and telecommunications systems.
The campus bookstore, located on the ground level of the Student Union, was placed in the building such that inward views from the prominent roadway to the north were maintained. The bookstore's design centered on strategically placed sales counters, merchandise displays, bookshelves, and a computer repair store. Considerations for large capacities of merchandise storage and display were critical when properly sizing and programming the space allocated in the early phases of the building design. Large portions of the below-grade level of the building serve as a student amenity area, with a bowling and billiard center, a nightclub, an art center, a bar, a grille, and a signature double-height lounge space for social interaction.
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