Quackenbush Shares Student Union Design Expertise

COLUMBIA, SC – Doug Quackenbush, President of Quackenbush Architects + Planners, contributed to the recent 2015 SEC Union Directors Summer Meeting through a panel discussion entitled “Why the College Union (still) Matters”. The discussion explored the evolving role of the college union on university campuses. 

The panel comprised of six participants representing a variety of perspectives on the modern university campus.  Quackenbush offered his insight and expertise on the panel via the recently completed USC Russell House Leadership and Service Center alongside Kim McMahon, Director of Campus Life at the University of South Carolina.

When asked about the changing needs of the college student union, and our role in that evolution, Quackenbush gave the following answer: 

“The Union has always been the ‘living room’ of the college campus- and as such, will continue to be the social hub for students, faculty, and administration. The evolving need, as I see it, is keeping up with the needs and preferences of today’s student population: solving the keys to attracting students, enabling collaboration, and engaging in learning- even if it’s over a meal or during ‘down-time.’ Today, we feel this requires spaces that are comfortable, flexible and adaptable,  and perhaps the most under rated feature- spaces that are ‘cool.’  For this generation of students, this usually means sleek, modern, and loaded with tech.”

Quackenbush also discussed the need for “sticky” and “collision” spaces within the student union. The union serves as the main social hub in the heart of campus and its primary mission is to build “community.’ As such, good designs feature spaces that are welcoming, inviting, comfortable, day light filled and easily accessible- and therefore “sticky”, fostering organic interaction among students.  And “collision” spaces- typically common spaces strategically located at the major intersections of building circulation- also encourage natural interactions and collaboration, and tend to food service options.  

Quackenbush also lent his expertise to a panel discussion on student housing, “Coastal Connections: Relationships between People and Place at Coastal Carolina University,” at the 2015 Association of College and University Housing Officers – International Annual Conference on June 30th in Orlando, Florida. 

Read more about the project here.

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