A Sense of Place

July 10, 2019
Washington D.C.
CannonDesign, Marshall Moya Design, Lee and Assocs.

The new student center at the University of the District of Columbia was designed to create a sense of welcome to an urban campus that has long been seen as something of an afterthought. The four-year college has undertaken a major redesign to reposition itself in the dense, Van Ness neighborhood, and the student center’s entrance plaza certainly sets a stage for the upgrades that have taken place.

Landscape architects with D.C.-based Lee and Assocs. took the lead on the plaza design—the student center was the work of CannonDesign, in collaboration with Marshall Moya Design. The entire project is one of only two student unions in the U.S. to earn leed Platinum.

The university has taken to calling the plaza its “front porch,” and it’s easy to see why. It leads to a grand staircase, with steps sized for seating, that heads up to a new quadrangle and the rest of the campus, beyond. Its highlight is the undulating pattern of red and cream Boardwalk Pavers from Whitacre Greer. The dynamic patterning provides easy wayfinding to the student union’s entrance, which could be helpful for those emerging from the Metro station nearby.

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