At the University of Alabama Huntsville's new student center, students were involved from day one.
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CREATE                LEARN
  INSPIRE                   EVOLVE

Students rally for a highly-charged, spirited place

Before the Charger Union opened in January 2014, students at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) felt something was missing. They wanted an iconic building full of student life amenities - located in one place. When the student body brought challenges to the administration, what resulted was the new Charger Union. Early in the process, Mackey Mitchell Architects, working with TurnerBatson as Architect-of-Record, conducted a series of focus groups with students, alumni and the community to uncover these desires for the new student center. Student Government Committee (SGA) member Taylor Reed said, “Once the building was underway, everything was inspired by the students, for the students... I can vouch that when a student had a concern, the design team listened, just as if it were president Altenkirch (UAH President) himself speaking.”

Historically divided between research and academics, the new building metaphorically “bridges” the campus, creating a unified experience.
UAH's design is all about transparency and connection; the bridge lounge takes advantage of greenway views.
Putting a Unique Stamp on the Space Through Branding
Creating a sense of place has become more than just implementing the school colors and logo. College campuses are now looking for more ways to stand out from the crowd by emphasizing their campus brand. Branding has been defined as a combination of graphic design, art, and signage working together with the architecture, interior design, and landscaping of a space to enhance an institution’s identity. An inspired branding program requires a collaborative design process that brings the design team together with representatives from housing, communications, and the student body.

A herd of horses suspended across the north lounge symbolizes how students come to the university on their own, then become part of the Charger Union community.
(Left) Inspired by the night sky, the interior palette of the northeast lounge features warm wood tones mixed with vibrant “Charger” blue. (Right) The graphic theme is carried through into the work rooms.
(Left) The Charger Union mission statement greets visitors at the front desk. (Right) An LED digital map communicates UAH’s role in the global community, signifying that students are part of a larger whole.
“The entire building invites everyone to stop in and experience 'Charger Life',” says design architect Gywnn Zivic. The university’s Dean of Students commented at the dedication ceremony, “The presence of this building will transform the student life exprience for many generations of UAH students.” A Drury University alum, Zivic was recently recognized in the first edition of HSA News (Hammons School of Architecture) which featured her work on the UAH project.
“Being able to work with students to create an environment that supports their college experience is extremely gratifying,” says interior designer Merrilee Hertlein. “The branding program, with exhibits, graphic wallcoverings, interactive displays, sculpture, and banners, truly reflects UAH’s culture.” In addition to her extensive experience in design for higher education, she presented a session called "Make Your Mark" at the Association of College Union International’s (ACUI) Region 5 conference which focused on campus branding solutions.
From inside & out to day & night, check out our video of the UAH Charger Union in action!
(Video is less than 2 mins long)
CREATE                LEARN
  INSPIRE                   EVOLVE
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