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.

Submission deadline is November 15, 2024. Check back soon for submission form link.

2024 Recipient: Perkins&Will, Cox Hall Identity Spaces, Emory University

Emory University’s Identity Spaces project revitalized and reimagined their affinity group spaces, establishing welcoming and inclusive environments reflective of the unique groups’ cultures. The two-phase process significantly upgraded Emory’s Belonging and Community Justice spaces to create a more just and equitable campus where all students thrive. The $9.8 million project renovating 18,500 square feet was completed in September 2023.

2024 Recipient: Workshop Architects, Purdue Memorial Union,
Purdue University

Improvements to the historic Purdue Memorial Union included excavated space to construct new outdoor social terraces, four new student organization programming stages, a new Marketplace with 12 food concepts, and numerous historical features, such as limestone markers which had been in storage, 100-year-old brick and concrete walls original to the building, and artifacts from a beloved 1927 restaurant. The $35.7 million renovation of 65,530-square-feet was completed in 2022.

2024 Recipient: CannonDesign, Western Michigan Student Center, 
Western Michigan University

This new, vibrant space serves as the hub of belonging, fostering connection, community, and collaboration for all students. The three-level building features gathering and lounge spaces, a dining facility, the campus bookstore, an on-campus brewpub, the campus welcome center, retail locations, and more. Completed in July 2023 at a cost of $99 million, the 163,000-square-building was shaped by an extensive stakeholder engagement process and principles of Institutional Diversity and Multiculturalism.

2024 Recipient: Mackey Mitchell Architects, Lamar Johnson Collaborative, Clayco, SCAD Forty Four and Forty Five, Savannah College of Art & Design–Atlanta

Completion of the Forty Four and Forty Five represented the final buildings in a trio of living-learning towers, providing nearly 1,000 students with an immersive residential experience that represents a commitment to innovation and student success. The complex has it all—from academic spaces and cafes to fitness studios and performance venues, creating a dazzling experience of artistic energy specifically designed for the student body. The $115 million, 448,759 square foot project was completed in September 2023.

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  

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, 2020.
  • Have not been submitted more than three times for the award.
  • Have not previously won an ACUI Facility Design Award. 
  • Opsis Architecture, Wacheno Welcome Center, Clackamas Community College
  • Mackey Mitchell Architects, Ashley McGraw Architects, Hildegarde and J. Myer Schine Student Center, Syracuse University 
  • WTW Architects, JLG Architects 
    Memorial Union, University of North Dakota 
  • Duda|Paine Architects, VMDO Architects 
    Student Health & Wellness Center, University of Virginia
  • 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