Tag Archives: High Education

Student-Centered: What Makes for a Successful Modern Day Student Union

Perspectus Architecture has been working with Belmont College in St. Clairsville, Ohio since 2012. Belmont College is a two-year public community college offering residents in the Ohio Valley a variety of academic and technical training degrees.

Our most recent project with the college created a place where their students could gather and study together and established a new identity for the college. Such spaces on college campuses are often referred to as student unions or student centers. What do these campus hubs need to create a student-centered experience in the 21st century?

Today, college student unions play a pivotal role in student recruitment and retention. Often where campus tours begin and end, these buildings establish an institution’s brand and communicate the institution’s values and culture to prospective students.

Student unions must fill a variety of needs to help prepare students for the professional environment and reflect the many ways students learn and collaborate. Amenities available within these buildings, such as community spaces, various dining options, and digital resources, have evolved and student expectations of these amenities have continued to escalate.

Well-designed student spaces combine open collaboration spaces, where socialization and group work can occur, with smaller, quiet spaces and intimate study nooks.

It is important that student unions connect the student body to the rest of campus, acting as a one-stop for academic and institution services, student activities, entertainment and learning.

As the professional world increasingly functions at the crossroads of technology and human interaction, students today need a place where they can connect socially and have access to resources for academic and career success. For the incoming generations of students, an institution’s student union symbolizes how it will prepare them for career survival.

 

Belmont College’s student center is located within their Main Building, with original construction starting in 1971. The last major change the building underwent was in 1996 with the addition of a new wing. Since then, the Main Building has seen very little change, slow to adapt to meet changing needs. As a commuter school, Belmont College wanted to provide better opportunities for students to stay on campus after and between classes. The college also sought to establish a new identity to help attract and retain the best students in the region. In doing so, the college decided to bring their approximately 100,000-square-foot Main Building into the 21st century with a clear focus on the student. To accomplish this task, Perspectus Architecture led Belmont College though a re-design that supports the college’s current and future needs.

This transformation of the Main Building encompassed extensive interior, exterior, and infrastructure renovations. Students who enter the building now experience a new campus shop, library, classroom finishes, plus a complete reconfiguration of staff office space into the aptly-named “One Stop.” The creation of student collaboration spaces such as a new lounge, reading room, and gaming area entice students to hang out longer on campus. The gaming area is one of the more unique added amenities; here, students can plug in their own gaming systems to screens, allowing them to work together recreationally.

New wayfinding and the incorporation of bright colors and environmental graphics energize the building, reinforcing the College’s brand and commitment to the success of its student body.


Check out more of our Education work here.

Read news articles about the Belmont College Main Building renovation:

WTOV NBC 9 – Belmont College completes more than $8 million in upgrades

Belmont College News – Main Building renovation nears completion at Belmont College

Additional Resources:
Student Unions As Campus Destinations
Reactivating the Student Center on the Modern Campus