Middle Tennessee State University recently constructed a new three floor, 197,000 SF student union. The university’s goals for its 26,000 students are at the very core of the building, as it serves to help students better collaborate, congregate, and communicate. The center will develop a strong sense of community on campus, acting as a central meeting point for years to come. The new center houses the university’s first full-sized formal ballroom. Large enough to seat 850 for dinner and 1,500 theater style, it is an extremely versatile facility. It can be easily subdivided into five spaces using motorized partitions. When partitions are in place, each sector is complete with independent audiovisual systems. The space also includes “pre-function” areas where people can gather before events.
A technology-rich environment is created at the union, which achieves the objective of supplying resources for the modern student. In addition to ballrooms, the video theater, parliamentary room, conference rooms, lounges, and dining areas exemplify this concept. Large video walls and flat panel displays convey messages and current events to students and visitors. Informal TV and study lounges support the program’s social learning objectives and allow comfortable places to relax and collaborate with fellow students between classes. The Game Room incorporates traditional favorites like billiards and foosball, and even includes modern electronic console gaming.
The ADA Certified Video Theater showcases first-run films sourced from a digital video service and also allows playback of Blu-ray discs, 3-D content and other media types. The Parliamentary Room gives the student government association a place to legislate and vote, using the delegate-style speech intelligibility and electronic voting system. Modeled after a contemporary legislative voting chamber, it is a unique feature of the student center. Multiple conference rooms and meeting spaces are filled with collaborative technology, encouraging the importance of group-work in modern academia. The spaces also offer informal study areas and an outlet for computer-based class work. The union meets the needs of the on-the-go student offering a place to connect with other students and learn collaboratively, yet provides a comfortable space to dine and unwind after a long day.