San Jose State University Student Union

San Jose, California
A 21st-Century Beacon of Student Life

San Jose State University Student Union dates to the early 1960s and was designed as a cast concrete monument to student life by the Bay Area modernist, Ernest Kump. Our additions respectfully connect to this building using neutral glass “buffer” zones on the east and west. We created a distinct and welcoming entry portal experience, while redefining internal circulation through a soaring new skylit atrium at the center.

The use of concrete on the additions complements the original building—the new addition’s language of glass, metal wall panel, and rainscreen is woven through sections of the Kump building within the concrete frame, tying the old and new designs together. The programming includes food services, large event rooms/ballroom and meeting rooms, bookstore, auditorium/theater, recreation center and lounge spaces, Spartan shops, multicultural center, and offices.

Both contemporary and contextual, our design weaves old and new environments into a single, unified center for student life.
Using the existing cast concrete structure as a visual anchor, new wings on the east and west add lightness and transparency to the building's composition.
Façade of New East Addition
East Addition and Renovated Existing Student Union
What Makes It Cool
The soaring, sky-lit atrium, carved into the core of the original structure, brings light deep into the building and public gathering spaces surrounding the atrium.

Project Team

People
Bill Schmalz
People
Nick Seierup