2019 Renovation & Construction Showcase: Student Union, University of Illinois–Springfield


Student Union
University of Illinois–Springfield
Springfield, Illinois

New Building
Submitted by: Ann Comerford, Executive Director, Student Union
Campus type: Four-year, public
Full-time enrollment: 4,900
Project broke ground: May 2016
Project completed: January 2018
Total area: 52,000 sq. ft.
Floors: 3
Project cost: $21.75 million
Funding source: Student fees and donations
Architects: Dewberry Architects – Peoria, Illinois; Workshop Architects – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

New Facilities
Ballroom: 2,940 sq. ft.
Dining services: 17,640 sq. ft.
Student leadership center: 4,000 sq. ft.
Starbucks: 704 sq. ft.

Student Union, University of Illinois–Springfield. Photo courtesy of  University of Illinois–SpringfieldThe University of Illinois–Springfield (UIS) had always lacked a gathering place, but seven years ago students engaged in a discussion with campus administrators about the need for a union. It took two attempts before students approved a new fee to help pay for construction costs, and donors provided over $6 million in additional funds to help create what is now the focal point for student life.

“Prior to the union, there wasn’t a sense of campus, tradition, pride, or community,” said Union Executive Director Ann Comerford. “All those things were on campus in various areas, but the union gave it all a home. When you stand on the second floor and look out on to the quad, you feel like you are part of something, a part of UIS.”

That view to the north is enabled by the building’s ground-to-roof glass windows, which also allows for the second-floor coffee shop to double as a campus overlook from the south end of the campus quad. Designed for LEED Gold certification, the student center has a green roof that bends to the south to control solar gain and a rain water reclamation system; plus, energy costs are expected to be more than 30% lower than with a traditional building model.

Student Union, University of Illinois–Springfield. Photo courtesy of University of Illinois–SpringfieldAll campus food services are in the new building, including aStarbucks, and lunch concerts have become a new tradition after the union received a donation of a Steinway piano. The StudentLeadership Center houses offices for student life, volunteers and civic engagement, student government, and a conference room, and there is also a state-of-the-art gaming room.

Comerford said the new building is “amazing,” and added the staff stay busy.

“There are lessons learned from the process of planning and building a space. There is never enough storage, and keeping a wall of windows clean can be a challenge, no matter how amazing they are, but you just need to be sure you have a good sense of humor,” she said. “Having a new building is amazing, but just because it’s new doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its challenges. It’s best to enjoy the ride and take it as an adventure.”

Student Union, University of Illinois–Springfield. Photo courtesy of University of Illinois–Springfield

Load more comments
New code
Login to be able to comment