To promote connection and social engagement, the updated student center serves as a campus living room.
Originally constructed in 1972, the existing D.P. Culp Student Center no longer served the diverse needs of the ETSU student body. Once deemed a closed and uninviting building, the new space encourages students to stay by offering places to relax, socialize or study.
Initiated entirely by student voices, the 2018 renovation and addition reinforce a sense of place, by transforming the Brutalist building into an open and flexible hub of social activity.
A central ramp cut through the original space and appeared spatially disorienting. Incorporating a new central staircase increases social connection, streamlines wayfinding, and enhances the transparency of the space.
To inform design decisions, students were involved in every phase of design and construction to ensure program adjacencies and aesthetic decisions supported their campus culture. The design team prioritized consensus-building between administrators and student government to identify operationally efficient solutions that support student needs.
The building program spans three floors and provides a range of student programming and public services for the campus community. The design team helped guide administration through various options that ultimately supported placing student services on the second floor for convenience and wayfinding. The layout connects all services from a central open core with lounge seating and abundant natural light.
Preserving Campus Culture
“The Cave” is a unique rock formation, integrated directly into the interior wall of the multipurpose gaming space. Preserving this iconic feature was important to the students as a valuable piece of campus culture. To support diverse modalities of use, the space is equipped with flexible technology and furniture options to accommodate quiet study groups or eSports tournaments.
Gaming is an important part of the student experience, which requires substantial power capability. The design team decided to provide a unique space, capable of supporting large gaming tournaments to support this shared social activity.