Minnesota State University—Mankato, Centennial Student Union Renovation and Addition

Mankato, Minnesota

  • FIRM

    MHTN Architects


    Minnesota State University, MnSCU

  • AREA

    75,000 sq.ft.





Renovating and adding onto Centennial Student Union on the Minnesota State University–Mankato campus transformed a dark, outdated and uninviting building into a bright, open and social student union.

The project goals were to improve the union’s inadequate entry and undistinguished appearance, upgrade food services and activate the lower level. The existing entry ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCO FIRMPaulsen ArchitectsASSOCIATED FIRMMHTN ArchitectsCOST PER SQ FT$100.00CITATIONRenovation/Modernization CitationFEATURED IN2006 Educational Interiors2006 Architectural PortfolioINTERIOR CATEGORYInterior RenovationSUB CATEGORYRenovation not be seen, and common areas were situated in dim spaces scattered throughout the union.

A new entry created a clear and open connection to both the upper-level ballroom and hearth room. Enclosing the courtyard and cutting three large sections of the floor through the center of the building made the union more open, bright and connected.

The new three-story hearth room functions as an open campus living room and has become the focal point of student activities. The design preserved part of the former exterior brick wall on the upper level. The hearth room features a 40-foot fireplace made of locally quarried limestone.

A new food-service and seating layout increased capacity, and the colorful soffits and terrazzo flooring created greater visibility. The expanded dining areas surround both the main- and lower-level food-service areas.

From the main-level circulation area, students can see down the three openings cut through the floor to the lower-level food-service, lounge and dining areas. The use of bright colors, suspended ceiling planes and railing panels help define and connect the many different seating atmospheres. A variety of furniture facilitates diverse activities. Lounge areas also are equipped with high-speed network access.

This union creates a beautiful gateway into campus and a distinguishing new image for the university.

“Dramatic change from dead and dark to alive and bright. Clearly achieved the goal of opening up spaces, improving lighting and improving expansiveness of the areas.”--2006 EIS jury

"Dynamic inside and out. Stunning transformation for maximum impact."--2006 AP jury