Facility Focus (Student Centers)

Saint Peter's University: MacMahon Student Center

Saint Peter's University

PHOTOS © KAT NANIA/SHEPLEY BULFINCH and ROBFAULKNER.COM

Since opening its doors last year, the Thomas MacMahon Student Center has become a defining landmark for Saint Peter’s University in the dense urban fabric of Jersey City, NJ.

Designed by Shepley Bulfinch, the sixstory, 87,800-square-foot building is the first-ever student center in the school’s 140-year history and the first major construction project on the campus since 1974. In addition to providing a social crossroads for the university’s 3,100 residential and commuter students, the Center has put Saint Peter’s at the center of Jersey City’s civic life, hosting community events from mayoral debates to county science fair honor award ceremonies.

The MacMahon Center is an important element in the school’s plans to position itself competitively. The six-story Center, which spans the east side of the Jersey City campus, is also envisioned as a catalyst for the revitalization of nearby McGinley Square, building redevelopment momentum sparked by the cluster of financial institutions that now populate a stretch of Jersey City along the Hudson known as “Wall Street West.”

The Center unites under one roof activities that were previously scattered around the school’s 25-acre campus. A ground-floor living room features a mix of seating and a working fireplace, as well as a home for the Jesuit school’s campus ministry. On the floors above, the building provides dining facilities, a fitness room and game area, and student activity rooms. The sixth-floor Duncan Family Sky Room hosts special events for the university and the community, with its breathtaking views of the skyline of lower Manhattan and a seating capacity of 430.

The Center integrates a number of sustainable strategies in its design, including the use of recycled materials for many components, including the use of 50-percent recycled aluminum on the exterior curtain wall. More than 90 percent of the project’s construction waste was recycled.

This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of College Planning & Management.

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