Saint Louis University’s 1960s Busch Student Center was given new life with a complete renovation and a new 42,000SF addition. The building was expanded to a total of 160,700SF with a banquet hall and meeting facilities for up to 1,000 people. Other amenities included a new campus book store, multi-purpose classrooms, student organization offices, a bank, and additional food venues. Taking advantage of existing assets (such as maintaining the original service area and loading dock) helped keep budget under control without sacrificing program scope or quality.
Collaborating with SLU’s administration, faculty, and student representatives, Mackey Mitchell first identified positive building features and improvement opportunities. Located on the edge of campus, its main entry on a busy and congested urban street made the center feel separated from the main campus. The primary organizing idea was to create a two-story gallery connecting the food venues to a new main entry and a two-story atrium lounge along the major campus pedestrian path. This strategy shifted the building’s entrance and primary social space from being ‘down the street’ to the heart of campus.
The outdated student center was transformed into a contemporary, attractive destination with “wow space!” It has become a favorite hangout for students to watch news and sporting events and grab meals throughout the day. A curved glass atrium overlooks an inviting waterfall and plaza which has become a new “family room.” Students say the plaza has become a destination nicknamed ‘The Beach’ which in winter also serves as a natural ice skating rink!
Passion + Perspective
Mackey Mitchell transformed the University's 30-year old student center into a modern and vibrant destination for the entire community.
- Kathleen Brady
VP for Facilities Management & Civic Affairs, SLU