Constructing its first major building in more than a quarter century, the University of the District of Columbia set out to transform a nondescript campus filled with utilitarian, 1970s architecture. The 80,000-sq-ft student center also anchors an effort to build a residential community on campus. “A new student center is a crucial ingredient in this renewal,” architect-of-record Cannon Design wrote in the award submission.
The project, on a tight site, features a restaurant and dining facility and offers financial services and study and meeting spaces for UDC’s more than 5,000 students. It also has event and entertainment venues, a 10,000-sq-ft fitness center and retail space, including a bookstore that caters to students and community members. One Best Projects judge said he looked at the busy, high-profile section of the city on Google’s street-view maps and was impressed by the project’s team “ability to get it built” despite such limited laydown area.
With a green roof, rain garden, bioretention facility and two central atria that allow daylighting, the center achieved another lofty goal: It is the first student union in the U.S. to receive LEED Platinum certification.