Oklahoma State University (OSU) assigned the architect to develop a design solution that honored the history and culture of the 1950s student union while making it exciting and relevant for future generations. The overarching goal of the project was to reconfigure and backfill new uses into more than half of the existing 332,000-square-foot facility while adding ASSOCIATED FIRMWorkshop ArchitectsCOST PER SQ FT$289.00FEATURED IN2013 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYRenovation 33,000 square feet of new space for expanded needs. Other goals included complete upgrade of all mechanical systems, installation of fire-suppression systems throughout, and achieve full compliance with life-safety codes and the ADA.
Recognized as the largest student union in the world and considered the hub of campus activity, the upgraded student union provides students with more than 360,000 square feet of exciting new facilities, including a new campus life area on the second floor with a spacious exterior balcony; five new self-operated and five franchised food-service and dining establishments; a spacious new bookstore with street-level and interior access; and a fully renovated ballroom and theater that will accommodate a variety of activities. Other enhancements include the development of a new student-life piazza with an expansive outdoor gathering space and amphitheater.
Because of the size of the building, renovation requirements and the wide variety of occupancies, it was apparent that traditional design approaches for meeting building code requirements would result in a finished project that contained numerous fire and smoke walls, compartments and cumbersome paths of egress. Working closely with the university fire marshal (AHJ), the design team devised an engineered alternative to prescriptive code requirements. A strategically designed fire-suppression and alarm system with heavier than normal concentrations allowed obstructions to be eliminated and opened up adjacent uses to each other to promote pedestrian circulation and visibility throughout the building.