The ACUI Facility Design Awards were created to encourage and recognize excellence in the design of student-centered facilities that support campus community building and student learning.

Awards may be given for four budget categories of new college union buildings, additions, renovations, restorations, outdoor environments, interior dining environments, interior or outdoor recreation environments, and interior redesign and refurbishing. The total cost of the building or individual environment is the determining factor: less than $25 million; $25 million–$35 million; $35 million–$55 million; more than $55 million. Another award may be given for a campus life project other than a college union regardless of the cost of construction.

ACUI is now accepting nominations for Facility Design Awards! Nominate by December 8!

2023 Recipient: Opsis Architecture 
Wacheno Welcome Center, Clackamas Community College 

The Wacheno Welcome Center creates a welcoming front door to the campus and an inviting environment for students and support staff to connect. The “One Place” model promotes ease of access, academic support, and career pathways, while removing physical and psychological barriers. Directly connected to a refreshed Community Center, the combined resources invite engagement while seamlessly linking to the campus fabric. The $16.5 million renovation and new construction project was completed in August 2021.  

2023 Recipient: Mackey Mitchell Architects, Ashley McGraw Architects 
Hildegarde and J. Myer Schine Student Center, Syracuse University 

Through many engagement opportunities and hundreds of interactions, the Schine Student Center renovation at Syracuse University had more influence from students than any building initiative in the university’s history. Their feedback was clear: the dark and outdated student center needed to be more accessible, open, and representative of them—a place where all students feel welcome and connected. Embracing the principles of Universal Design, student-centered design, and planning for diversity, equity, and inclusion, the Schine Student Center has been revived into a vibrant campus gateway. The $40 million renovation was completed in August 2021.  

2023 Recipient: WTW Architects, JLG Architects 
Memorial Union, University of North Dakota 

With the goal to improve student life through thoughtful design, the University of North Dakota envisioned a new union. The 155,000-square-foot facility is located within the campus historic district. The design features a signature tower, serving as a landmark for visitors and students. The Memorial Union is a thriving a hub on campus, acting as a new welcome mat for the university and offering a place of community that did not previously exist. The $80 million new building project was completed in August 2021. 

2023 Recipient: Duda|Paine Architects, VMDO Architects 
Student Health & Wellness Center, University of Virginia

University of Virginia’s Student Health & Wellness Center serves a growing student population while introducing programs to promote wellness and preventative practices. The design encourages a sense of community with flexible areas for social interaction and individual contemplation. Interior finishes, lighting, furnishings and colors result in an environment more like home than traditional clinical spaces. The location allows students to easily engage with public programs on the building’s ground floor, including the pharmacy, multi-purpose space, teaching kitchen, and living room. The nearly $73 million new construction project was completed in August 2021. 

The submission must included the following criteria:

  1. Describe connections with the community, campus, and environment in which the project sits.
  2. Detail the planning and design process, including how the use of creative materials, input from students, and inclusion of partners shaped the project and its goals.
  3. Highlight the work and materials to differentiate the project from other entries.
  4. Emphasize usage and people in photos, specifically illustrating:
    • Use of building by the community
    • Exterior views together showing all the principal facades of the building including a view of the exterior entrance
    • Exterior view of how the building fits into existing campus structure
    • For renovations, at least one photograph before renovation
    • For additions, detailed photograph and the connections to the original building
    • Interior view of facility from entrance area
    • Interior view showing a major public services position (dining service, lounge, etc.)
    • Interior view showing a typical user area
    • Interior view of general lounge area, if applicable, using existing lighting only
    •  Interior view showing a major function in a public area, if applicable
    •  Interior view of student activities spaces
    • Interior or exterior views of the completed facility in use
    • Any additional views explaining special design features that capture the uniqueness of the project  

The submission deadline is December 8.

Note: The submission process is updated this year through our new membership platform—which means applications can autofill with your profile information, be saved as pending for edits until you officially submit, and be stored for your future access. In order to submit an application, you will need to create an account login, if you don’t already have one.

The review process includes, but is not limited to, an assessment of the criteria listed as needed in the submission.

Architects for college union or campus life facility projects built anywhere in the world are eligible to apply for these awards. Projects must:

  • Have been completed, occupied, and in service prior to entry.
  • Have been completed since December 1, 2019.
  • Have not been submitted more than three times for the award.
  • Have not previously won an ACUI Facility Design Award. 
  • L. Gale Lemerand Student Center at Daytona State College by ikon.5 architects
  • Creative Village by at University of Central Florida and Valencia College by Cannon Design
  • D.P. Culp Center at East Tennessee State University by Moody Nolan
  • Michigan Union at the University of Michigan by Workshop Architects
  • Duke Wellness Center: Duda|Paine Architects and Duke University
  • Natali Student Center: WTW Architects and California University of Pennsylvania
  • Nebraska East Union: WTW Architects and University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • Pence Union Building: Perkins & Will and Eastern Washington University
  • Barbara Walters Campus Center: KSS Architects and Sarah Lawrence College
  • Carlton Union Building: Hanbury, Worrell Design Group, Affiliated Engineers Inc., Walter P. Moore, and Stetson University
  • Emory Student Center: Duda|Paine Architects, MHTN Architects, and Emory University
  • Multicultural Center: Opsis Architecture, RMC Architects, and Western Washington University