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Gonzaga’s New Student Center

Gonzaga’s new student center is a bustling social hub. Take a stroll through Gonzaga University’s new John J. Hemmingson Center and you might get the feeling of walking through a retail mall or airport terminal, rather than a student center. Day and night, the building’s “main street” is bustling with activity- students grabbing a coffee at Starbucks, shopping at the natural foods grocery, working at the tech center, or having a bite at the food court. Clusters of cozy furniture encourage students to relax, socialize, study, and meet for group assignments.

A grand staircase and a series of bridges connect the building’s three floors, while floor-to-ceiling glass, interior and exterior, creates a sense of openness and transparency. In any spot, students are no more than 30 feet from a natural light source. “Every corner of this building is in use, even on nights and weekends,” says Chuck Faulkinberry, the facility’s Director.

The LEED Gold facility is a sustainability showcase. Centralized geothermal heat pumps tap into an underground aquifer to meet the center’s heating and cooling needs. A rooftop greenhouse yields organic produce for student dining. The team, working under a modified design-build contract, developed clever solutions to several complex issues.

Problem: How to accommodate food service needs for a 650-seat food court, 900-seat ballroom, and retail dining areas.

Solution: The team placed the central kitchen below grade and stacked the dining and ballroom functions to increase efficiencies.

Problem: How to cost-effectively glaze the atrium spaces.

Solution: The team worked with code officials to develop an alternate path that allowed the perimeter walls of the atrium to be fully glazed without a fire rating.

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