The Office of Student Engagement at Missouri State University provides students who are actively engaged on campus through a broad array of organizations a place to meet, collaborate, organize, and socialize. Its new home is a centrally located, but below-grade space in the Student Union formerly occupied by a bowling alley. The design solution works to enliven a space without access to daylight and a limited budget of only $121/sf.
Entry to the space is from elevators or a long descending hallway to the subterranean space. The program is organized into a simple white box, with staff offices furthest from the student collaboration spaces, maximizing acoustic separation. The eight-foot-tall by 90-foot-long faceted “engagement wall” displays images of student activity on campus and leads visitors from the entry past the reception desk to a sunken forum dubbed “collaboration commons.” Flanked by additional spaces dedicated to specific student organizations, the commons is a place for students to collaborate on group projects, study, and socialize.