The new Student Union is a focal point for the campus community and an interactive connection to the public. The building has created an environment where UNLV students can gather informally outside of the classroom, where campus organizations can meet, where events can be staged and where the public can visit. A major design challenge was to respond to the predominantly commuter-based university population by attracting students to the campus and encouraging their involvement in student life at UNLV.
This three-story facility, which replaced a much smaller and outdated building on the same site, provides spaces for diverse functions and groups. The ground floor supports public activity with dining areas, space for student activities and services, a 300-seat theater and retail stores. Semi-public functions such as a computer lab and help center, student lounges, meeting spaces, and a ballroom are located on the second floor. Offices for student organizations share the third floor.
To maintain on-campus dining options and other essential functions during construction, a two-phase plan was developed for the new Student Union. In response to this short term phasing requirement, the design incorporates flexible spaces that will adapt easily for future growth.
The project also features several exterior spaces that extend the Student Union’s usable program area. A 20-foot-wide balcony spans the northern face of the building, providing a gathering place overlooking an existing plaza area. Below this terrace, two monumental exterior stairs lead to a landscaped forecourt with seating. To the south, a large courtyard framed by the building is shaded with fabric canopies. This shading structure draws people toward the building, extends dining space and creates a stage for special events. The courtyard is terraced with 15-inch high concrete benches to provide amphitheater-style seating.