Boise State University Student Union
Significant challenges during programming arose in the form of multiple departments needing “front door” presence. The solution to this problem was not an easy one albeit a simple one. Internal streets were developed within the plan on both main and upper levels in order to promote the feeling of front door real estate for all departments.
In addition to the internal competition for prime real estate, the desire to provide views to the exterior green space at the north for student lounge space as well as for conference pre-function and student organizations within a limited footprint was challenging. The solution was again simple, yet not easily arrived at. The student lounge space was organized primarily on the ground level of a two-story “atrium” space while student organization spaces, conference pre-function spaces, and dining spaces were “layered” on multiple floors adjacent to the lounge space. The approach was to create somewhat of an open suite for these functions so as to borrow the sense of space and views afforded by the volume of the atrium.
Unique site constraints existed in two primary areas. Relocation and screening of the loading dock and the amount of grade change in the North/South direction. The issue of the loading dock was solved by shifting it to the south and creating an enclosed service yard that was cleverly disguised as simple extensions of the masonry planes that defined the new addition. Grade changes were cleverly integrated into the building’s outboard circulation system through the use of small site walls and the development of a plinth on the east that evolved into an outdoor dining patio. In addition multiple entry points were planned into the facility to provide connections in all directions and to capture students.
Perhaps one of the most challenging criteria was creating an addition that had a fresh and contemporary aesthetic while still working in harmony with the fabric of the existing structure, an existing fabric that was quite simply dated looking and somewhat un-interesting. The approach we took was to create connections to the existing fabric with transparent elements as much as possible while threading the original materials of masonry and pre-cast concrete into the new facades so as to create an addition that shares the same architectural DNA.