From Bomb Shelter to Bombshell: the amazing renovation of Memorial Student Center at University of Wisconsin-Stout
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Student Center Transformation Wins ACUI Award

Twenty-five years ago, Stout’s student center was designed first and foremost for durability. With its durable cast-in-place concrete frame structure, it even doubled as a fallout shelter. Students decided their windowless, institution-like student center needed to be transformed into a more communal gathering space. This began a student government-led renovation program resulting in a $19 million transformation of the Memorial Student Center.
Last week, the 70,000sf project received an ACUI (Association of College Unions International) Facility Design Award of Excellence. “The award was presented jointly to UW Stout and Mackey Mitchell Architects", said Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen, “but the real winners are the students, faculty, and staff who use the facility. It’s now a beautiful gathering place, and one of the gems of our physical campus."
The newly created curved southeast entrance welcomes students and embraces an outdoor amphitheater.
Before the renovation, the southeast entrance was a formidable and uninviting vine-covered concrete ramp to the upper level.
Through thoughtful programming and creative re-use of the building’s bones, students now enjoy high-energy dining, lounge, and events spaces where they can study, relax, and hangout. The Terrace Dining Room offers a variety of seating and gathering options arranged around a central fireplace.

Since the renovation, building traffic is up 21%, food sales after 7pm are up 63%, and the space is occupied right up to midnight closing time.

To see The Terrace "in action" and transform from dining room to night spot watch this time lapse video.
Windows and solar tubes provide an abundance of natural light in The Terrace Dining Room.
With low ceilings, monotonous seating arrangements, and an institutional look, the original Terrace was not a desirable destination.
A fresh new look for the atrium was created by removing walls and replacing them with glass panels, opening views to the outside and below.
After renovation, spaces around the atrium became bright new meeting places for student interaction.
Heavy concrete and masonry infill around the perimeter of the old atrium blocked natural light.
When thoughtfully designed, stairways are not only a safe and necessary part of the design, but can also become a focal point or even a place for a pleasant social experience. Mackey Mitchell's project manager Jim Konrad shared his expertise in an article titled "The Social Stair" featured in College Planning & Management magazine.
With window seating, ample daylight and broad vistas, stairs at MSC become communal gathering places.
The bright open spaces of the renovated Memorial Student Center signal a new era in campus tradition. It has become the hub of student life and activities at UW-Stout.

"We used to accommodate the building - now the building accommodates us.”
- Nate Daniels, Student Building Manager (former)

The Memorial Student Center, designed by Mackey Mitchell Architects with Frisbie Architects as Architect of Record, is located in Menomonie, Wisconsin.

Previous ACUI Facility Design Award winners...

Within the last five years, Mackey Mitchell has received three of these international design awards. We are proud to be recognized by ACUI, an organization committed to the advancement of the higher education campus community.
Student Success Center, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (Awarded 2010)
Ridgway Student Center, University of Evansville (Awarded 2009)

If you are interested in more information on how Mackey Mitchell is shaping student life across the country, contact John Burse or Merrilee Hertlein.
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