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New UDC Student Center balances sustainability with modern design

The renovated Student Center takes UDC out of its “commuter campus” shell

Washington, D.C.’s only public higher education institution, the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), is in the midst of a campus-wide renovation with the goal to create a more sustainable environment. By transforming the Student Center into a more modern facility, UDC hoped to also shift its image from being a "commuter campus" into a community that is still engaging for students outside of the classroom.

In January 2016, the newly designed Student Center was unveiled. The $63 million building is the centerpiece of a 10-year master plan, serving as a site for engaging and supporting students academically and socially. It is also positioned to be the first LEED Platinum student union on the east coast and only one of a few in the entire country, according to a press release.

CannonDesign’s Arlington office in association with D.C.-based Marshall Moya Design designed the Student Center with a variety of materials, from glass to bronze metal. Located at Connecticut Avenue NW and Van Ness Street NW, the building now houses a 14,000-square-foot green roof. Other green features include a rain garden, photovoltaic panels, and toilets that flush with captured rain water.

The 83,000-square-foot building houses areas for both academics and socializing. Along with areas for campus life, student government, and career services, it also features mixed-use retail, a conference center and ballroom, and a fitness and wellness center.

In a statement, UDC President Ronald Mason Jr. said, "This building is a symbol of where we want to be and what we want to represent in terms of our role with the District. It’s state of the art. It’s attractive. It’s sustainable. And it’s in a location that gives us a face into the broader community."

The Civil Engineer of the renovation was Delon Hampton & Associates. The MEP was Setty and Associates. Finally, the Landscape Architect was Lee and Associates.

University of the District of Columbia (UDC)

4200 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20008 (202) 274-5000