University of Central Missouri Elliott Student Union, Warrensburg, Mo.
University of Central Missouri Elliott Student Union, Warrensburg, Mo.

Enhancing the ‘Campus Living Room’




University of Central Missouri Elliott Student Union


Warrensburg, Mo.

Design Team:

KWK Architects, CannonDesign

Product Specs:

Wood Wall and Ceiling Panels: White Oak—Flat Panel with edge banding; Linear Wood Ceiling: White Oak—Suspended Panel Grille Wood Ceiling

Originally Published:

KWK Architects, partnering with CannonDesign, has completed a 15- to 20-year renovation masterplan for the University of Central Missouri’s Elliott Student Union, a 165,000-sq.-ft. social hub affectionately known as the “campus living room.”


Most recently, kwk completed design and construction administration for implementing Phase 1 of the masterplan, which included a redesigned, modern main entrance and a new 280-seat multi-purpose auditorium addition. The total construction cost of Phase I was approximately $7 million. The new entrance was completed in fall 2019, while the new auditorium was completed in spring 2020.

The planning team worked closely with university leadership, students and staff to define a 15- to 20-year vision for renovating the facility, which also houses a bowling alley, several retail dining options,a cinema, university offices, a bank, student programming spaces, ballrooms and meeting spaces.


After the masterplan was completed, the team provided the university with a magnitude of cost for each phase of the renovation. The goal was to update the central atrium as the primary student area, transform underutilized spaces, support the evolution of student services and improve overall visitor experience.

“The team analyzed existing conditions and held multiple workshops, meetings and a town hall to gain stakeholder input,” said kwk Principal Eric Neuner, aia. “We explored various design options to best meet the university’s vision for how the facility would look and feel and how its space would best be utilized.”

To create the new entrance, the design team shifted the south entrance to the west to create a hallway between the existing bowling center and a Steak‘n  Shake restaurant, which were also given access points within the new corridor. The former entry had also served as the entrance to the bowling alley, which created confusion for visitors not familiar with the campus or the building. The new entrance area also includes seating, a graphic wall timeline, entry signage and a wayfinding kiosk.


“The new entrance and hallway were designed to be functional as well as inviting with its comfortable seating and modern design elements, which include wood accents, gray-toned flooring and the university’s signature red color featured throughout,” said Andy Noll, aia, project manager at KWK.

The 5,700-sq.-ft. auditorium addition, one of the highlights of the renovation, was designed with a stage and retractable seating so that the facility could be used for a variety of student and community events, such as wedding receptions, reunions and special gatherings. The entrance to the auditorium is also accessible through the new entrance hallway.

“The first-phase auditorium addition was directed towards student recruitment, providing a large, flexible space that introduced students to the university,” said Neuner. “Additionally, it was critical that the design address a connection between the new auditorium and the main visitor entry to Elliot Student Union,” said Neuner.

University of Central Missouri Elliott Student Union, Warrensburg, Mo.
University of Central Missouri Elliott Student Union, Warrensburg, Mo.

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