The University of Florida (UF), Reitz Student Union is a dynamic campus destination that supports all UF students, numerous campus programs and the Gainesville, FL community at large. The rejuvenated facility is a response to a student-led campaign for the renovation and expansion of their campus union to address a growing population and aging infrastructure. UF partnered with CannonDesign to create a sustainable, functional space that meets student needs and incorporates strong elements of the university’s brand identity into its design.
Featuring 126,000 sf of new space and 100,000 sf of renovations, the Reitz Union is heavily influenced by input from students, UF scholars and leadership. The center includes meeting rooms, lounges, dance rehearsal studios, a ballroom, game room, dining options and student organization offices. The union also brings together key university departments like the career resource center, multicultural & diversity affairs, student government and more to drive synergies and best support students.
“CannonDesign involved thousands of students and hundreds of staff to ensure their thoughts and opinion were reflected at various stages of the design,” said Norbert Dunkel, assistant vice president and director of housing and residence education at the University of Florida. “The Reitz Union possesses a fully integrated, LEED platinum design and incorporates the important storytelling of our campus so students will always know they are members of the University of Florida. This contemporary design meets the needs of the 21st century students who wish to pursue leadership, service, engagement and discovery.”
In a nod to UF’s beloved mascot, the American Alligator, the union incorporates design elements inspired by the patterns, colors and textures of the gator’s scales, tail and underbelly – making the Reitz Student Union “uniquely UF.” Visual connections showcased from the atrium’s vertical expanse link the activities housed here and also promote powerful views of the campus. “From day one, we knew the University of Florida wanted a union that was unique to the Gator family,” said Roland Lemke, CannonDesign project and design principal. “I think we’ve delivered with a building that honors UF’s brand and how the campus wants to be represented. This building will impress anyone that enters it.”
The renovation focuses on the restoration of exterior surfaces and structural components, replacement and upgrade of electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems, and upgrades to interior finishes and lighting. To align with the university’s commitment to a carbon-neutral campus by 2025, the plan includes a rigorous recycling program, high-efficiency fluorescent lighting, low-flow fixtures, rapidly renewable sourced supplies and a green housekeeping program.