Facility Focus (Student Centers)

Marian University: Alumni Hall

Marian University: Alumni Hall

PHOTOS © SUSAN FLECK

Marian University’s Alumni Hall is a tall one-story, 19,000-square-foot building located on the rapidly growing institution’s Indianapolis campus. A transformative facility for student life at Marian, the building acts not only as a welcoming new face to the campus entry but also as the social heart of academic life.

Designed by RATIO Architects, the facility is simply arranged as two hinged elements: a dining corridor which connects students to the existing Hackelmeier Memorial Library, and a social component; a simple rectangle anchored at its ends by large fireplaces and a coffee shop. Large spans of curtain wall frame picturesque views of the campus quad and flood interior spaces with natural light. Other functions in the building, including a campus bookstore, catering support and a variety of outdoor dining and lounge spaces, are collected in zones and designed with future reorganization of space in mind.

The most challenging aspect of the design was the main student lounge space, envisioned by the university as a cozy “living room” for students — a facility that previously had not existed on campus. The space needed to be able to convert to a large-scale convocation room capable of seating approximately 325 people in a banquet setting as well as being subdivided into two smaller event rooms. A vertical-movement Skyfold partition and a series of folding glass doors allow for this division of space. RATIO designers included seating niches along the south side of the lounge serve different functions for each event type, making a convincing transformation possible.

This space would be an empty box without the inventive use of movable lounge furniture. A necessary quality for turning over the space for events, it is transformed by students daily according to their preferences for study and socializing.

This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of College Planning & Management.

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