Charles Rose Architect’s first design for USD was a business school that won a national competition in 2001. That project gave us a detailed understanding of USD’s need for dynamic architecture that could help energize and reorder the campus. The Muenster University Center was our second USD commission. It is sited on a new quadrangle we created by moving a parking lot.
Because of its leading role in campus life, we gave the student center a prominent position at USD’s north portal, where it borders a historic pedestrian mall. The mall, which we renovated, is a central axis of circulation and links the student center with “Old Main,” the heart of the campus. We also connected the student center with the library by constructing a covered glass structure dubbed the “link lab.”
This computer lab permits easy movement between buildings during frigid winters; from the outside, the lab’s glass walls create transparency between the quadrangle and pedestrian mall.
The student center’s exterior is quartzite, the same stone cladding for Old Main—and quarried from the same regional source. Notable features include the second-story ballroom that gestures boldly toward Old Main; beneath this prominent overhang is a terrace for outside dining. Inside, we created a wide central path through the building; students can perch on the balcony above in comfortable sitting areas.