Home » Kentucky architects vote NKU student union as favorite college campus architecture

Kentucky architects vote NKU student union as favorite college campus architecture

Votruba Student Union at Northern Kentucky University
Votruba Student Union at Northern Kentucky University

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (Dec. 12, 2013) – The James C. and Rachel M. Votruba Student Union at Northern Kentucky University has been named the favorite building on any college campus in Kentucky based on an online vote conducted by the American Institute of Architects Kentucky.

The competition, which took place this fall, included 170 nominated buildings. Nearly 14,000 votes were cast by 5,000 voters. The NKU student union emerged as  No. 6 on the list of favorite architecture in the commonwealth and the No. 1 “institutional” architecture, edging Transylvania University’s Old Morrison, Appalshop in Whitesburg and the Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium in Louisville.

Designed by Omni Architects, the Votruba Student Union established a new focal point for the Highland Heights campus, giving shape to the plaza’s westward expansion. When it opened in 2008, the 144,000-s.f. facility was a dramatic addition to the campus architecture. It established a new focal point for campus life, an interior ‘main street’ that features food courts; a 600-seat ballroom; student organization meeting rooms; multi-purpose activity areas with video games, pool tables and study spaces; and a plaza-level Starbucks.

“The Student Union has been a critical component in the transformation we’ve seen both in the aesthetics of our campus and its culture,” said NKU President Geoffrey Mearns. “Omni Architects designed a structure that will stand the test of time. This honor is recognition of that. In fact, eight of the top 10 buildings recognized by AIA Kentucky are on the National Register of Historic Places. As we approach our 50th anniversary, we are honored to be included among revered structures such as St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica, the Old State Capitol and the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs.”

Expansive glass exterior walls and sky lights create light-filled spaces within the Votruba Student Union, contributing to the building’s feeling of openness and spacious accessibility. It was designed to foster a feeling of connection, out-of-class learning and student engagement. In a video shown at a Nov. 21 awards ceremony in Louisville, the building was noted for its “exuberantly modern structure” and its “high-quality contemporary design.”

The following buildings received the most votes for best buildings in Kentucky in the AIA competition:

  • St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica, Covington
  • The Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge, Covington
  • The Louisville Palace, Louisville
  • Jacob’s Hall Museum, Danville
  • Old State Capitol, Frankfort
  • NKU Student Union, Highland Heights
  • Twin Spires of Churchill Downs, Louisville
  • Federal Hill (My Old Kentucky Home), Bardstown
  • Calumet Farm, Lexington
  • Jesse R. Zeigler House, Frankfort