With limited time to study, work and practice, many student athletes at the University of Nebraska were spending hours each day getting back and forth to the places they needed to be—and for student athletes, time is precious. Now students have one central hub where they can eat, study, practice and connect quickly to their classes. Not only a place of convenience, the $10.5 million center for 600+ students in 23 varsity sports has become the social heart where students can "decompress" in a supportive, restorative environment.
As part of the design process, the Mackey Mitchell/BVH Architects team invited students to participate by writing a "Postcard from the Future," describing an imaginary visit to the completed student center. The bold plan resulted in a light and airy living room literally in the "basement" of the historic Memorial Stadium. Aside from natural light, there were complexities working with building systems, eccentric structural conditions, and challenging clearances. Now, nestled within the structure, students and faculty have a light and airy place for quality face-to-face time in a casual, coffee-house environment.
The Student Life Center has become a recruiting advantage for Nebraska. "I've been to other universities," said Athletic Donor David Sokol, "and they don't have what we have here. This has been built like a large living room where student athletes enjoy their home away from home. Although this was a bizarre space to consider, it turned out to be the perfect place for a living room environment. The only problem now is too many students want to hang out here. But for now, that's an okay problem to have."
Passion + Perspective
The only problem is that too many students want to hang out here.
- David Sokol