Emory Student Center opens doors

Expansive space in the heart of campus will be new community hub

After watching the Emory Student Center taking shape for nearly two years, the campus community is invited to step inside and experience the expansive new facility.

The center opened its doors on Monday, May 6, providing a first-hand glimpse into the new structure, which houses an array of student-centered features, including a high-tech gaming and recreation lounge, a spacious new food center, a convenience store and innovative spaces for studying, collaboration and student engagement.

In addition to providing a central location for student-centered services, the new building contains a large multi-purpose space, which can morph from a series of six meeting rooms into a sweeping ballroom that can hold up to 1,400 guests, with overflow space for another 200.

It is a work in progress, to be sure. Some furnishings have yet to arrive, food service hasn’t started, offices are still being unpacked, and several artistic installations are scheduled for later this summer — including relocation of the popular Emory postcard mural near the temporary DUC-ling, which will find a new home here.

But as for how the space will look and function? That much is obvious — and impressive.

With clean, modern lines, the three-story facility stands tall on the campus landscape, featuring north and south pavilions connected by an internal third-floor skywalk. If it feels especially roomy inside, that’s because it is — about 117,000 square feet, as opposed to the 70,000 square feet of its predecessor, the Dobbs University Center (DUC).

The interior is open, airy and light. And nearly everything was influenced by student input, from the furniture and flooring to the overall color scheme and patterns of the textured upholstery, says Ben Perlman, director of student center operations in the Division of Campus Life.

“In terms of creating a new place for community-building, programs and events, it’s going to be incredibly impactful, with a lot more inviting, flexible spaces for students to gather and collaborate,” he says. “But it’s also a space for everyone.”

Considered one of the most energy efficient buildings on campus, the Student Center employs 400-foot-deep geothermal wells dug into nearby McDonough Field to help heat and cool the facility, and several of the exterior glass walls boast solar-tracking shades to block the heat of the day.

Look upward to study a constellation of LED lighting – some conventional, some architectural and artistic. Glance outside for sweeping views of campus, with perspectives you may have missed, including the original front façade of the Alumni Memorial University Center (AMUC), once again exposed to the light of the day.

Outside, roses are already blooming in the open-air plaza — it’s actually a green roof — that stretches between the new student center and the AMUC. Soon, outdoor furniture will join the mix.

Although the grand opening isn’t until this fall, campus employees are already moving into new office spaces as the building prepares to host an array of summer meetings and conferences, says Perlman. Food service will launch later this month, but public seating now offers inviting nooks for studying and socializing, as the new facility begins to awaken for business.

Here's a first look at each of the new spaces, including some that are still getting final construction touches.

An exterior view looking up at the new Emory Student Center with a blue sky behind it

The new Student Center includes north and south pavilions connected by a walkway.

A view of the AMUC and blooming, red flowers opposite of the Emory Student Center

Roses are already blooming in the open-air plaza — actually the roof of the first floor dining area — that stretches between the new student center and the Alumni Memorial University Center.

A view of the AMUC from the Emory Student Center

Restored now as a stand-alone building, the Alumni Memorial University Center spent decades with its iconic entrance enclosed in the old Dobbs University Center (DUC).

The new Student Center includes north and south pavilions connected by a walkway.

Roses are already blooming in the open-air plaza — actually the roof of the first floor dining area — that stretches between the new student center and the Alumni Memorial University Center.

A view of the AMUC from the Emory Student Center

Restored now as a stand-alone building, the Alumni Memorial University Center spent decades with its iconic entrance enclosed in the old Dobbs University Center (DUC).

North Pavilion

Rows of chairs are stacked in a large room

Still under construction, the Multi-Purpose Room in the North Pavilion will become the largest indoor gathering space on campus.

A conference table sits in the middle of a large room

The Multi-Purpose Room can be divided into six smaller rooms for meetings and events.

A view of the Multi-Purpose Room from the outside

Still under construction, the Multi-Purpose Room in the North Pavilion will become the largest indoor gathering space on campus.

A conference table sits in the middle of a large room

The Multi-Purpose Room can be divided into six smaller rooms for meetings and events.

A view of the Multi-Purpose Room from the outside

Multi-Purpose Room

This first-floor room now offers the largest gathering space on campus, capable of hosting anything from a town hall meeting or concert to smaller break-out conference sessions. Designed for flexibility, the large ballroom-sized floor plan can easily be divided into six smaller spaces with retractable acoustic walls. Spillover crowds can view events just outside on large video monitors.

A staff member stands behind the Welcome Desk

The Welcome Desk greets visitors entering The Commons on the second floor of the North Pavilion.

A birds-eye view of blue sectionals and chairs lining a large room

The Commons is considered by some to be the public-facing “living room” of the center.

A view of blue sectionals and chairs lining a large room

Sectionals, couches, chairs, tables and lamps line The Commons.

A view of blue sectionals and chairs lining a large room

The Welcome Desk greets visitors entering The Commons on the second floor of the North Pavilion.

The Commons is considered by some to be the public-facing “living room” of the center.

Sectionals, couches, chairs, tables and lamps line The Commons.

The Commons

The Commons is considered by some to be the public-facing “living room” of the center. Visitors entering the second-floor space will find a formal Welcome Desk, along with an array of small tables and cozy seating for meeting, studying and gathering. Furnishings are cast in subtle shades of blue and gold and light natural wood — a palette chosen by Emory students. Outdoor seating is available on The Commons Terrace.

Various appliances line countertops

The Eagle Emporium will offer convenience store items as well as some dining options.

Chair and booth-style seating inside of the Eagle Emporium

It is scheduled to open before students return to campus for the fall semester.

The Eagle Emporium will offer convenience store items as well as some dining options.

It is scheduled to open before students return to campus for the fall semester.

Eagle Emporium

Located just behind the Welcome Desk, the emporium will operate much like the former DUC convenience store. Patrons can pick up a variety of convenience items, dry goods, beverages, and fresh grab-and-go foods, such as panini sandwiches and salads. An opening is scheduled for early August.

A long, green sectional with a round coffee table

Beyond providing a spot for hanging out, the Student Involvement Lounge in the North Pavilion is designed to invite engagement.

At the top of a staircase, the Student Involvement Lounge includes a long sectional and lots of storage with a view of the first-year residence halls

Floor-to-ceiling windows reveal a view of the first-year residence halls from the area.

A young woman sits with her feet up in a privacy pod with her laptop

Several seating pods allow for a little privacy while students study.

Several filing cabinets line a hallway

The Student Involvement Lounge features lots of storage, workspace, and seating.

A long, green sectional with a round coffee table

Beyond providing a spot for hanging out, the Student Involvement Lounge in the North Pavilion is designed to invite engagement.

Floor-to-ceiling windows reveal a view of the first-year residence halls from the area.

A young woman sits with her feet up in a privacy pod with her laptop

Several seating pods allow for a little privacy while students study.

Several filing cabinets line a hallway

The Student Involvement Lounge features lots of storage, workspace, and seating.

Student Involvement Lounge

Beyond providing a spot for hanging out or catching the latest news on big screen TVs, this area is designed to invite engagement. Situated on the north side of the facility overlooking first-year residence halls, the lounge also encompasses corridors located on the second and third floors complete with desks, tables, casual seating and lockers. A large utility table and nearby washing station can accommodate sprawling craft projects. Meeting rooms may be reserved for collaboration.

A sign points visitors toward student services offices

Several student services departments are all located on the third floor in both the north and south pavilions.

A wall of windows shows into a conference room

Offices, conference rooms and lounge spaces are available for the student services departments housed on the third floor.

Cubicles and a high-top table are located in an office

Staff members are already hard at work in the new spaces even as finishing touches continue.

Several student services departments are all located on the third floor in both the north and south pavilions.

Offices, conference rooms and lounge spaces are available for the student services departments housed on the third floor.

Staff members are already hard at work in the new spaces even as finishing touches continue.

Offices for Student Services & Student Center Operations and Events

Student services departments are all located on the third floor in both the north and south pavilions, including offices dedicated to Civic and Community Engagement; Student Involvement, Leadership and Transitions; and Belonging and Community Justice, which encompasses Racial and Cultural Engagement (RACE); LGBT Life; Social Justice Education; and the Center for Women. Offices for Student Center Operations and Events are here, too, along with a series of conference rooms.

South Pavilion

A sign says "Dobbs Common Table Est. 2019"

Located on the first floor of the South Pavilion, Emory’s newest dining center, Dobbs Common Table, is still getting final touches. It will be home to 10 restaurant-style food stations.

Blue armchairs and a rustic-style coffee table open to a kitchen area

Near the entrance, a casual gathering space dubbed “Crossroads” provides informal seating with easy access to coffee, pastries and a soft-serve ice cream station.

Several sections for housing food ready to serve sits behind glass panels. A rotisserie and carving station is behind the serving stations

Dobbs Common Table features several state-of-the-art amenities, including a rotisserie and carving station.

Bar stools line counter seating

Students will have various seating options, including counter-seating space at the Dobbs Common Table.

Located on the first floor of the South Pavilion, Emory’s newest dining center, Dobbs Common Table, is still getting final touches. It will be home to 10 restaurant-style food stations.

Blue armchairs and a rustic-style coffee table open to a kitchen area

Near the entrance, a casual gathering space dubbed “Crossroads” provides informal seating with easy access to coffee, pastries and a soft-serve ice cream station.

Dobbs Common Table features several state-of-the-art amenities, including a rotisserie and carving station.

Bar stools line counter seating

Students will have various seating options, including counter-seating space at the Dobbs Common Table.

Dobbs Common Table

Located on the first floor, Emory’s newest dining center offers a spacious, open concept that features 10 restaurant-style food stations, including vegan/vegetarian, gluten-free, kosher and halal options.

Individual food stations feature state-of-the-art amenities, including both a pizza oven and tandoori oven, a rotisserie and carving station, and flat Mongolian-style grill.

To the right of the entrance, a casual gathering space dubbed “Crossroads” provides a variety of soft, informal seating with easy access to coffee, pastries and a soft-serve ice cream station. Also available: Two private dining rooms, which may be reserved for special gatherings.

The biggest change? Probably the sheer abundance of space — with seating for about 760 guests, Dobbs Common Table is twice the size of its predecessor — and an expanded, more versatile menu, says Chad Sunstein, director of campus dining.

A majority of food preparation will take place directly at food stations, instead of requiring preparation in a remote kitchen. “Our food has always been fresh,” he says. “Now the community can see that in action, with our staff members preparing food right in front of you.”

The space will include original artwork, including some furnishings, commissioned from Atlanta-area artisans. To be installed later this summer: A colorful ceiling mural above the Crossroads corner created by local muralist Christina Kwan, who’s noted for her abstract floral designs.

“We believe the overall design here reflects the future for universities,” Sunstein says. “Our inspiration came not only from other higher education institutions, but the corporate world — the kind of potential future environments our students will be looking at after graduation.”

Limited service for summer camps and conferences will begin at Dobbs Common Table on Friday, May 17. A full menu will be available by late August, as students return to campus.

“Seeing this fully realized has already exceeded our expectations,” Sunstein says. “We’re really excited to see how community members react to it.”

The temporary DUC-ling facility will continue service through Wednesday, May 8. Current staff will then transfer over to the new Dobbs Common Table; hiring is already underway to meet the needs of the newly expanded facility, according to Sunstein. Food service will continue to be provided through Bon Appetit Management Company, he adds.

The DUC-ling will be dismantled later this summer and transported to Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. The space it occupied will be transformed into a park-like pedestrian-only setting.

Bar-level seating faces 75-inch wall-mounted monitors

The new student recreation lounge in the South Pavilion offers casual seating and a state-of-the-art gaming center, with counter and booth seating and two 75-inch wall-mounted monitors.

Comfortable blue chairs gather around a table in front of a gas fireplace

A large gas fireplace anchors the adjacent Flex Lounge.

The new student recreation lounge in the South Pavilion offers casual seating and a state-of-the-art gaming center, with counter and booth seating and two 75-inch wall-mounted monitors.

A large gas fireplace anchors the adjacent Flex Lounge.

Student Recreation Lounge / Fireside Lounge

Enter the second story from the outdoor plaza, and you’ll find the new student recreation lounge — a handy corner with lots of casual seating. But the showstopper may be the state-of-the-art gaming center, with generous counter and booth seating and two 75-inch wall-mounted monitors. Nintendo and Play Station games can be checked out nearby.

A pool table and foosball table will arrive later this summer. Overhead, a massive ceiling fan — imagine a large plane propeller — helps circulate air, lending a modern industrial ambience.

Just around the corner is the “Flex Lounge,” a cozy gathering space anchored by a large, working gas fireplace and multiple configurations of comfortable seating.

A view of a kitchen a beverage refrigerator

Next to the fireside lounge, Emory’s newest Kaldi’s location will feature a coffee shop and full-kitchen café.

Next to the fireside lounge, Emory’s newest Kaldi’s location will feature a coffee shop and full-kitchen café.

Kaldi’s Coffee / Café

Adjacent to the fireside lounge, Emory’s newest Kaldi’s location will feature a coffee shop and full-kitchen café, offering coffee, breakfast pastries and a full lunch and dinner menu. Scheduled to begin service mid-July, the new space provides seating for about 40 patrons inside, about 50 outdoors.

ABOUT THIS STORY:

Photos by Kay Hinton. Writing by Kimber Williams.

Learn more about Emory:

Please visit Emory University and the Emory News Center.

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