New Student Center Incorporates Sustainability and Technology

Daily dining choices of Asian, Mexican and other cuisines. A full-service grocery store for students and staff. Rooftop views of the Pacific Ocean. And technology that allows students to interact and connect in new and exciting ways.

These are just a few of the features of the University of San Diego’s new Student Life Pavilion. The striking 55,000-square-foot, four-story Spanish Mediterranean facility is designed to “set a new standard” for student dining and student life, said Andre Mallie, director of auxiliary services. “We’ve provided a distinctive gathering place where all students – undergraduate, graduate and law – will find a sense of place and community.”

Funding for the US$30.4 million facility comes in part from a student referendum to increase student fees passed in 2005. An energy efficient building, the Pavilion is designed to be the university’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building and is seeking Gold-level certification.
It will offer informal spaces day and night for social growth and active involvement in programs and activities including dining, meetings, and interaction with faculty.

“We are confident it will become the hub of campus life and a source of great university pride,” Mallie added.
Specific features of the facility include:

  • Multiple natural food choices in the new dining area including numerous themed mini-restaurants.
  • Food prepared to order at live action cooking stations.
  • Live demonstrations and complimentary cooking classes offered in partnership with the Culinary Institute of America.
  • “Tu Mercado” market, featuring a full grocery line including fresh produce, frozen foods and a tea and coffee bar – open from 7 a.m. to midnight and offering on-line ordering.
  • New study spaces in a totally wireless environment with smart technology and videoconferencing options including “Tidebreak” areas where students can work together across common screens and their own laptops.
  • An active game lounge, plus other common areas.
  • Entire floor dedicated to Student Leadership with offices constructed in an open-space forum to allow for student interaction.
  • Sustainability efforts throughout the facility, including herb and vegetable gardens, conveniently located on the rooftop; use of compostable flatware, cups and plates; 100 percent Styrofoam-free; tray-less eateries; and offerings of organic, Fair Trade and local foods and beverages.
  • The first BioHitech system on a college campus. The system breaks down excess food scraps and converts it into water.

Other green features of the pavilion include natural ventilation with windows that open and an inner courtyard to promote air flow; the use of recyclable or recycled materials such as carpeting; a 40 percent reduction in water usage by low-flow water fixtures and low-water plantings on the rooftop offering panoramic views of San Diego’s Mission Bay and Tecolote Canyon.

“The Student Life Pavilion blends the best thinking in healthy student dining, sustainability, technology and student/faculty engagement in one incredible facility,” said Carmen Vazquez, vice president of Student Affairs. “Whether you are a commuter or honors student, a new freshman or a senior preparing to graduate, the SLP will provide students with an unforgettable collegiate experience.”

The pavilion’s Plaza Mayor will provide a new venue for students to host outdoor events and will also provide a home for local growers to sell their fresh produce at a weekly certified Farmer’s Market.

The architect is Kevin Hom + Andrew Goldman Architects/New York and Architects Mosher Drew Watson Ferguson/San Diego, and the general contractor is Rudolph and Sletten.

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