Center of attention
Renovated student center receives international design award
April 9, 2014
The Memorial Student
Center at University of Wisconsin-Stout used to have dark hallways and
staircases, uninviting entrances and outdated gathering spaces.
During a yearlong
$19 million renovation in 2011, it was transformed into a vibrant community
facility with a town square theme — four times the lounge space, open pedestrian
corridors, a grand staircase, new glass-walled entrances and bright new meeting
and dining areas. An amphitheater was added to the east entrance.
On Tuesday, April 8,
in Orlando, Fla., the center received a 2014 Facility Design Award in the $15
to $25 million project category from the Association of College Unions
The award was
presented to UW-Stout and Mackey Mitchell Architects of St. Louis during the
The real winners are
students, faculty, staff and area residents who use the facility daily, according
to Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen.
Student Center was completely transformed. It's now a beautiful gathering place
and one of the gems of our physical campus. It has become, as it should be, the
hub of student life and social activities at UW-Stout," Sorensen said.
"This was a job well
done by everyone involved, including students, who offered input about what
they wanted, and staff members, who provided the vision and saw the project
through down to the final detail," Sorensen added.
Darrin Witucki, who oversees the student center as
University Centers director and who was in Orlando for the award presentation,
"The award not only focuses on the structure, but it also
puts particular focus on how that structural design facilitates community
development," Witucki said.
"Our building competed with some very impressive new
buildings with all the bells and whistles. The MSC was transformed into a community
building, and that certainly is a major reason why it won the award," said
Witucki, the UW-Stout point person for the project.
"This is a pinnacle
award for this building. It truly is an international award," he added.
The project was in
the planning stages for seven years. It involved three design committees and
included direct involvement by more than 50 students.No taxpayer dollars were involved in the
project, which was paid for by student fees approved by the Stout Student
and sustainable materials were used throughout the updated building. For
example, dining booths, benches and study nooks were made from the bowling
lanes, which were removed.
Building traffic up more than 20 percent
Since reopening, the
student center has seen an increase in daily traffic, university events and
special events. The center's conference and ballroom spaces can be reserved for
such things as wedding receptions, corporate events and shows.
- Building traffic is up 21 percent, to 765,000 people a year.
- Internal campus events are up 11 percent, with more than 9,800 event
and meeting reservations a year.
- External events are up 21 percent, with more than 300 meetings, conferences
and other events a year. To
schedule an event, click here.
- Daily food sales are up 25 percent. Food sales after 7 p.m. are up
63 percent, a reflection of "how the student body uses our building right
up to our midnight closing time," Witucki said, crediting University
Dining Services for its role in the redesigned food service areas. New and
more flexible dining spaces were created.
Mackey Mitchell Architects designed the renovated facility. The architect
of record was Frisbie Architects, of River Falls. The general contractor was
Market & Johnson, of Eau Claire. Consultants were Arnold & O'Sheridan,
of Madison, structural; PSJ Engineering, of Madison, plumbing; Robert Rippe
& Associates, of Minnetonka, Minn., food services; and Ken Saiki Design, of
The Memorial Student Center opened in 1985, replacing a 25-year-old student
center by the same name two blocks to the northwest. That facility was
remodeled into the Communication Technologies Building.
UW-Stout is the first UW System school outside of Madison to receive an
ACUI Facility Design Award since UW-River Falls in 2009.