Students, faculty, University administrators, and Greenville community neighbors will gather on January 7, 2019 for a ribbon-cutting celebration and dedication of the new Campus Student Center at East Carolina University (ECU). Designed by Perkins and Will, the 214,000 square-foot campus gateway will advance the student experience and reflect the distinctive ECU culture and values.
“The design of the new Main Campus Student Center provides an inclusive, welcoming space for all ECU students,” said Dr. Virginia Hardy, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. “We are thrilled to open this state-of-the-art building, which will transform our campus and create an amazing showpiece for East Carolina University. This facility will serve as the living room for our students for generations to come. The Student Center will also have a direct impact on the success of our students because this building literally opens doors to new relationships, collaborations and leadership opportunities.”
Design Responds to Student Needs
In addition to replacing an outdated 1970s student union building, ECU’s original objective was to design a multipurpose student center envisioned as a venue for cultural, educational, arts, recreation, and hospitality uses.
“A key to developing creative use options and achieving the right mix of spaces was the participation of students in the planning and programming,” said Jeff Stebar, AIA, LEED AP, higher education practice leader for Perkins and Will. Their aspirations and ideas inspired us and gave us a close-up view of the rich student traditions and culture of ECU.
Among the ideas integrated into the design is an eclectic mix of spaces that support the needs of 29,000 individual students and more than 500 student organizations. These include:
- Eight dining and retail venues
- Multiple lounges, study rooms, and a gaming center
- Large 14,000 square foot ballroom, dividable into three rooms
- Multipurpose conference space for student functions, alumni gatherings, and community uses 250-seat black box theater
- Five-level, 724-space parking deck
Community and Culture Enhance Student Discovery
One of the significant building anchors – shaping the inclusive spirit and diversity of ECU – is the Ledonia Wright Cultural Center. For nearly a quarter century, the Center has served as a facility for research and educational programming and a place to exhibit and store the university’s collection of African and African American art. The Cultural Center’s new transparent, expanded space will provide educational, social, and cultural engagement for the African American community and all students at ECU.
Student Commons Provides a Main Thoroughfare, Connects Campus Edge with Core
A 10,000 square-foot commons experience anchors the internal circulation by providing a Main Street artery with natural gathering spots. This two-story connector links the residential buildings along the 10th Street campus edge with the campus core. Resident students moving from dorm to class, and commuting students moving from the new parking deck, will walk through this space to reach the campus core. Integrated within the commons passageway, on two levels, are student organizations and activities offices.
Natural light fills the internal spaces, bringing the outside in, providing sweeping views of the campus, and reducing the substantial energy consumption of interior lighting fixtures. The smart-glass windows respond via sensor technology to the level of sun exposure throughout the day, adjusting tint and shading to control interior temperature and the amount of light coming into the building.
In addition to providing a new front door to the campus, the design creates a new front lawn and center for university gatherings. A 42-foot-wide outdoor LCD screen offers a Pirate Vision experience for watching the ECU Pirate sports teams and university-broadcasted events.