Innovation is often ignited by constraints—the challenge to do more with less. At Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, we recently completed a new student union that exemplifies just that.
The budget was tight. But the program requests were plentiful: a tiered student senate room, a movie theater, a concert venue, banquet space, a ballroom, conference rooms, and associated pre-function space.
"Accommodating all these big foot-print, highly specialized items would typically result in something oversized and underutilized, not to mention costly," says Tracy Dupont, interior designer for the project.
So we did it all—in one room.
Here's how we created this exceptionally flexible space, called the theater:
• Retractable seats allow users to pull out all rows (totaling 250 seats) for large functions or fewer rows for more intimate events
• Polished concrete floors can be easily cleaned after movie showings or band concerts
• Acoustical wood paneled walls and ceiling minimize ambient noise and provide an upscale aesthetic
• Floor to ceiling double-height windows provide panoramic views of campus, making the space attractive for luncheons, weddings, and lectures
• Black-out shades darken the room for movies and other events with projection needs
Throughout the week, the theater undergoes myriad transformations. Complemented by the rest of the union—which includes dining, retail, student organizations and services, and administrative offices—the theater holistically and efficiently supports student life on campus.
The new student union at Slippery Rock University creates a programmatic and visual hub for student life and community outreach. Centrally located between residential and academic areas of campus, the...