2020 Renovation & Construction Showcase: Main Campus Student Center, East Carolina University
Main Campus Student Center
East Carolina University | Greenville, North Carolina
Submitted by: Dean Smith, Director of Student Centers
Campus type: Four-year, public
Full-time enrollment: 28,713
Project broke ground: 2016
Project completed: 2019
Total area: 220,000 sq. ft.
Project cost: $120 million
Funding source: 89% student fees; 11% institution
Architects: Perkins + Will – Atlanta
Panda Express, Starbucks, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Au Bon Pain Café & Bakery, 1907 concept burgers, The Confectionary:10,000 sq. ft.
Student Involvement & Leadership, Student Activities & Organizations, Intercultural Affairs, Leadership & Service Learning, Greek Life: 80,000 sq. ft. Meeting rooms and ballroom: 40,000 sq. ft.
Ticket office, games room, meditation room, reservations office: 10,000 sq. ft.
You could call the new Main Campus Student Center at East Carolina University “jaw-dropping,” but a better adjective might be “eye-popping” because there really is so much to see, including the massive 42-foot-wide outdoor digital screen on the wall of the building. That’s where outdoor movies and sporting events are regularly viewed.
It’s also an easy “see and be seen” venue thanks to the smart glass throughout the building, so much of it that it’s considered the largest smart glass building of its kind on U.S. higher education campuses. It tints automatically or by use of a special app, cutting heating and cooling costs, optimizing sunlight, and reducing the need for shades and blinds.
The center received the Overall Design Award in the 2019 Building North Carolina Awards competition, and it is now the official starting and ending point of every admissions tour conducted by the university with a dedicated space just for that purpose. They even renamed the closest street near the center to Student Center Lane, and the newest selfie spot on campus is in front of the giant ECU letters at the front of the building.
Throw in a pair of grand pianos that any with the skills can play, a 720-space parking deck, third floor terrace, a black box theater, an expanded food pantry, and a one-of-a-kind ballroom that is showcased by a wooden floor inlaid into the shape of the East Carolina coast, and you’ve got a facility that draws visitors from the region, not just the university.
It’s also the first facility on campus to have a decoupled heating, ventilation, and air condition system, considered a sustainable air quality approach for buildings located in hot and humid environments. That concept, where ventilation air is separated from the system that supplies air to the HVAC system, works with the building’s chiller beams, chilled sails, radiant slabs, and smart glass to cut costs. Events2HVAC software is used to regulate temperatures in reservable rooms based on occupancy, a cistern collects rainwater for reuse, and automatic lighting controls can be found in every room.