LEED Platinum Aspirations for the Only Public Higher Education Institution in D.C.
The University of the District of Columbia, Washington’s only public higher education institution, has catered chiefly to commuting students since its founding in 1977. Set back from the street and featuring brutalist 1970s-era architecture, the university’s campus was nondescript and easy to miss. The new Student Center changes that by creating a new gateway and public face for the university. The building is the new “heart” of the campus, engaging and supporting students academically and socially, while acting as a critical link between the university and its District neighbors.
The design goal for the Student Center was to create a building that serves as a figural place-maker to identify the university as well as adhere to the university’s high standards for sustainability. The architectural design is composed of a combination of masonry, glass and bronze metal that modulates between the institutional nature of the campus and the pedestrian nature of the street. A clock tower rises high above the building, marking a new urban square teaming with students. Targeting LEED Platinum certification, sustainable design features are woven throughout the building, from a 14,000 sf green roof and photovoltaic panels to a rain garden and water treatment system that mitigates the amount and quality of water entering the city’s stormwater system.
Inside, the 83,000 SF project houses areas for campus life, student government, career services and other student support functions, in addition to mixed-use retail, a conference center and ballroom, and a fitness and wellness center. Spaces are designed to encourage students to plug in and focus on academics, as well as to interact with peers they might not otherwise get the chance to meet.
This building is a symbol of where we want to be and what we want to represent in terms of our role with the District. It’s state of the art. It’s attractive. It’s sustainable. And it’s in a location that gives us a face into the broader community.
– UDC President, Ronald Mason Jr.