The 1980s-era Hill University Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) had become an outdated facility that did not adequately support the growing student population and its changing needs. University administrators chose Herrington Architects in association with Hastings+Chivetta Architects to design the new student center to replace the existing building.
Located in the core academic campus just north of the large Campus Green, the new student center plays a pivotal role in forging a more collaborative and connected student community. The new building welcomes visitors to campus, attracts new students, provides a “living room of the university” – a home for the essential daily services of student life.
The new building design is organized around a large student-focused community space that is intended to promote unplanned interaction between students, faculty and staff, and forms the heart of the campus community. Bathed in natural light, this central community space forms the backdrop for organized events, impromptu performances and gatherings, and daily dining and social activities. The building shape also creates a large exterior space for students. Indoor and outdoor activities come together and relate to the UAB Campus Green, the Campus Recreation Center, Heritage Hall and University Boulevard.
The building and site designs include numerous sustainable design features and systems, many of which have been proven to result in decreased energy usage and increased occupant comfort. Additionally, the building is connected to the University’s steam and chilled water underground utility systems, which enables more efficient water heating and cooling/heating systems throughout the building.
Key functions in the four-story student center include extensive seating and lounge spaces, a two-story bookstore, dining, the “One Stop” student services center, Student Publications & Media, Student Organizations, the “Welcome Center”, multipurpose areas and a large theater, as well as administrative space for the Office of Career and Professional Development, Disability Services and the Transfer Center.