2020 Renovation & Construction Showcase: Carlton Student Union Building, Stetson University

Carlton Student Union Building

Stetson University | DeLand, Florida 

Carlton Student Union Building, photo by Bonisha Townsend-PorterRenovation/Addition
Submitted by: Kim Tilus, Associate Director of Student Development and Campus Vibrancy
Campus type: Four-year, private
Full-time enrollment: 3,498
Project broke ground: October 2018
Project completed: Spring 2019
Total area: 120,700 sq. ft.
Floors: 3
Project cost: $30 million
Architects: Hanbury – Norfolk, Virginia, Blacksburg, Virginia, Raleigh, North Carolina, and Clemson, South Carolina

Facilities added  
Faculty and staff lounge, student offices, student lounge, radio station, meeting rooms, dining terrace: 64,000 sq. ft. 

Facilities Renovated  
Dining hall, kitchen, coffee shop, bookstore, post office, banquet room: 56,700 sq. ft. 


Carlton Student Union Building, photo by Bonisha Townsend-PorterThe renovated and expanded Carlton Student Union brings a new commons dining hall, coffee shop, bookstore, radio station, student government offices, post office, and a student lounge to the heart of campus. Under renovation for two years, the project expanded the 1950s-era building by 48%, to 84,320 square feet, allowing it to serve a student body that saw a record enrollment of nearly 3,500 full-time students in 2018-19. 

While retaining the historic appearance of the front of the union building and its red brick exterior and stately white columns, the project still allowed for a modern flair to arise from the eastern façade. The new commons overlook a green space to the east, which can be viewed through a two-story wall of glass or from a covered outdoor seating area. 

The entirety of the project also highlighted Stetson’s commitment to environmental sustainability, from design and construction to the implementation of environmentally friendly practices in the commons area and the installation of solar panels on the roof. A total of 231 solar panels installed on the roof will generate an estimated annual value of 131.2 megawatts of clean energy, and represents the culmination of efforts by Stetson students to establish a Revolving Green Fund, with all students paying a $5 fee each semester for environmental projects. The solar project also received financial support from the student government association and university, and savings from the projects are rolled back into the fund for future green initiatives. 

A water feature at the east end of the union has 42 jets of water coming out of the ground and illuminated by LED lighting. The surface of the water feature bears the seal of Stetson University and slopes gently to collect water and recycle it back through the jets. 

Carlton Student Union Building, photo by Bonisha Townsend-PorterInside the union are new offices for the student government association, campus life and student success, student organizations, meeting rooms, a student lounge, the student radio station, and plenty of seating nooks to talk, study, and hang out. 

A new lounge for faculty and staff is located on the first floor and the second floor Stetson Room was remodeled for large events and banquets.

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