2009 North Alabama Chapter, American Institute of Architects Design Awards Citation Award for UAH University Center Lobby & Charger Café.
Lack of adequate dining space was the primary design challenge. Research revealed that the existing kitchen facilities would be capable of handling many more students and functioning more efficiently with a few enhancements. Additional dining space was added, significantly increasing its capacity.
The exterior walls are dominated by glass. The ceiling pops up and is punctuated by skylights. The flooring visually connects to new and old spaces. Another design challenge involved a basement level bookstore which was underutilized and largely hidden from view.
A steep parapeted interior stair was replaced by a lighter steel stair with cable rails, connecting the lobby and the bookstore. From the exterior a large open plaza is replaced by a fountain and glass bridge, encouraging student interaction. The plaza stair is covered by an arched translucent canopy which invites passerby's to the bookstore. The entrance into the existing late-modern building was difficult to find.
A new translucent entrance element was added at a primary access point and a second entrance element was added on the axis of a future boulevard. Both entrance elements feature curved roofs which project above the existing building and are conspicuous due to their contrasting geometry.
Students and visitors are now able to navigate the building more intuitively and can be assured of having a pleasant and generous space in which to dine.