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Renovating a Student Union Center, Building a Campus Community

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Connie Jiang

On a regional trip to the southwest region, El Pomar fellows, Jeff and Connie, and staff member, Peter, stopped by Fort Lewis College to check out their renovated Student Union Center.

A college’s student center has many purposes. It provides meeting spaces for students, hosts a variety of events, and offers dining services for the student body and staff. Fort Lewis College, however, is taking the concept of student centers to a whole new level. Redesigned with the philosophy that buildings influence behavior, the new Student Union building has become more than a campus hub, accommodating the needs of both the student body and the Durango community.

El Pomar granted Fort Lewis College $150,000 for a full-scale renovation of the dated Student Union building. With some much needed improvements and new furniture, the updated Student Union building has become one of the most impressive student facilities on campus.

On Fort Lewis College’s beautiful mountain-top campus, the Student Union Center serves as a central place where the College’s uniquely diverse student population can come together. The new building also provides the southwest Colorado community increased meeting space and opportunities to interact with the students.

Some of the building’s new features include the original sign from the local drive-in theater and a state of the art media center filled with the newest technology. The new Student Union also expanded the Native American Center and El Centro, the campus hub for Hispanic and multicultural students, to accommodate growing interest and a diverse student population. Committed to sustainability and leaving a smaller carbon footprint, the new building includes recycling and composting systems, natural lighting, and two solar energy projects: a solar hot water system and a rooftop photovoltaic system. Put together, these efforts allowed the building to achieve elite LEED Gold Status for its sustainability practices.