CannonDesign was involved in shepherding a student vision for a modern, highly-functional and sustainable student union to meet SDSU’s growing campus needs. Student persistence, engaging their peers and the wider campus community, resulted in planning and designing a facility that dramatically changed the campus character and student life.

This desire for the long-term, best outcome yielded a remarkable building that achieves the dual goals of creating a highly sustainable building while architecturally reflecting and extending the historic campus.

“The Conrad Prebys Aztec Student union focuses on environmentally responsible design solutions,” said W. Kenneth Wiseman, MRAIC, AIA. “Our design team examined how California Mission architecture had historically responded to the warm, dry climate of southern California. History revealed an array of elegant solutions that not only helped organize the building but also reduced heat gain and cooling loads and maximized opportunities for natural daylighting of interiors.”

San Diego State University wanted to replace its Aztec Student Union as early as 2000, but it was a full 10 years before students passed a referendum sufficient to fund the new building – and it was student enthusiasm for sustainable design that finally got the project funded.

“Because students wanted both to achieve a high level of sustainability and to be recognized for sustainability within a wider community, LEED Platinum certification was set as a target,” said Craig A. Hamilton, FAIA, LEED AP. “Recognizing that LEED Platinum would require investment in sustainable design strategies that might not yield short-term payback, the students made available up to $2.5 million to pay for these sustainable elements.”