Valparaiso University Harre Student Union
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 building is both a connector and magnet for students going to and from class. At the foot of a forested hillside, the union cuts a dramatic figure against the landscape while the building’s materiality and program connect the academic and residential districts. Terraces and retaining walls clad in light brick define the building’s base and relate to the adjacent student residences. The upper levels of the building, visible from the academic quadrangle, feature brown copper panels, laminated wood, and glazed curtain walls.
The lobby and lounges, designed in bold colors, animate the primary circulation path. Dining, retail areas, student organizations and services, administrative offices, and a conference complex all radiate from the path. The spaces are arranged by floor—from active and social to quiet and contemplative, reflecting the various campus communities’ desired hierarchy of spaces. The building is purposefully student centered—collaborative and fun with loft-like, open qualities and flexible furniture.
Large congregation spaces like the ballroom and theater are designed as flexible, multipurpose venues with retractable partitions, and supported by state-of-the-art audio visual technology. The theater, provided with moveable, tiered theater seats over a flexible flat floor, provides an ample programming range, accommodating 250-seat lectures, music acts, 400 person dances and other performances, student senate meetings and movie watching, among many other student-programmed events. These spaces are projected from the inside out to create major cantilevered frames that define focal points and viewing platforms, linking the building to distant campus spaces.