The building underwent major changes to fit the needs of students.
As the campus empties each summer, the Texas Tech University staff work to improve buildings all over campus. This summer, the staff at the Student Union Building (SUB) set out to make improvements to create an environment fit for all students.
Over the last two years, the SUB has undergone major transitions with staff, functionality and design. As the changes began to take effect, Dan Burns, managing director of Student Union & Activities, and Jon Mark Bernal, associate managing director, asked students, faculty, staff and building partners about their needs.
"We got a lot of great feedback and I think what we realized is that the SUB is a great place for people to come because it's central," Bernal said. "We know students come to the SUB often, but what do they come here for? This is the students' building, we want to help students use it however they see fit."
Bringing the Texas Tech spirit to the SUB
The renovations started small. The most recent redesign of the SUB was in 2007, and during that time, designers and staff made the building more modern by adding blues, greens and purples to the color scheme. But as the rest of campus improved, it seemed that the SUB was lacking in Texas Tech spirit.
So this summer, the staff sought to bring red and black back to life throughout the SUB. The blues, greens and purples on the walls began to disappear. The marketing team at the SUB worked to design photographic wraps for the walls featuring campus life, athletics and Texas Tech traditions.
"We really wanted to bring the spirit in here. Not only for our day-to-day visitors and their guests, but we do Football Fridays with the Office of Admissions, we have Red Raider Orientation over the summer," Bernal said. "So when you come in here, we want it to feel like it's still Texas Tech, not just a random building."
There was still more work to be done outside of the design and physical appeal of the building. The next phase of the project analyzed the work spaces and popular hangouts throughout the SUB and decided how those areas could be improved for student use.
Improving the third floor
The original SUB opened in 1953 as a two-story building with a basement. Throughout the SUB's lifespan, the building has been through numerous expansions and renovations. In 2007, the building expanded to a third floor and added space in the basement. The third floor eventually became home to Texas Tech student organizations, but remained untouched since 2007.
The third floor was filled with cubicles to give student organizations their own space. As organizations began to grow, the area filled with students and supplies, and there was little room for student organizations to meet. The staff at the SUB started brainstorming how they could make the space more useful for student organizations.
After meeting with various organizations, the staff focused on transforming the third floor into a collaboration space for all students. Since organizations such as the Student Government Association (SGA) rely heavily on the third floor of the building, the SUB staff chose to invest in those organizations.
"We found that students are working together more, collaborating and talking," Bernal said. "You go to the libraries or other parts of campus and you see everyone working together in open spaces."
The cubicles have been replaced with storage units for student organizations to keep supplies and materials. The remainder of the third floor is filled with moveable furniture for students to use as they please. The space features a mix of lounge furniture as well as tables and rolling chairs.
The newest innovation of the third level is the power track system that has been installed in the floor. Not only do students have access to outlets in the wall, but also towers of outlets rising from the floor. Tables can be moved near the towers so students can plug in multiple devices while studying.
Three walls in the space have been dedicated to white board space. Students can use the boards to work on projects and help with presentations. The third floor also gained an Information Station where Students can check out markers, erasers and rolling white boards as well as keys for die-cut machines.
The SGA office was completely redone to give the space a more modern feel as well as more versatile use for senate meetings. However, the space is not restricted to student organizations. Any Texas Tech student is welcome to use the space to study, eat lunch or just hang out.
Changes throughout the building
While the third floor of the SUB underwent major renovations, the rest of SUB is seeing changes, too. The staff at the SUB knew the building needed modernization as well as minor fixes to ensure the needs of the students are met.
TVs were installed throughout the building to be used for various events and will be used to stream Texas Tech sports, events in the Allen Theatre and present information for students. The SUB is also working with its digital marketing team to use the TVs as digital signage to promote day-to-day activities, room schedules and student organizations' events.
"We know there's a big video game population on campus," Bernal said. "We're going to work with them to host a video game night in the food court area of the SUB. We think it will be cool for them to compete all over the food court."
A sound system also has been installed throughout the entire building. Feedback from students mentioned that the building was almost too quiet outside of peak times. The sound system will play music on each floor of the building. It also can be used to make announcements in the event of emergencies, special events and when closing the building. The system can even be sectioned to play music or announcements in designated areas.
Meeting rooms throughout the building also received their fair share of improvement. In the past, rooms on the second floor of the building were filled with lounge furniture for students to relax. The old furniture was replaced with moveable tables and chairs, and white boards were mounted on the walls.
The transition from stationary furniture to moveable work spaces quickly spread throughout the building. During past expansions, the outdoor area between Allen Theatre and the Red Raider Ballroom was enclosed and used as a lounge area. The staff saw this space as a major opportunity and reorganized new and old furniture to transform the area into a multipurpose space for students, organizations and departments.
The staff also reinvested in the game room in the basement. In addition to replacing pool cues and ping-pong balls, there will be new games added like large-scale Jenga and Operation for students to check out. The space, as well as other spaces in the building, will be used for fun events, competitions and game-watching parties.
The SUB staff is constantly exploring ways to improve the building and the experience for Texas Tech students. Future plans include working with Hospitality Services to keep popular food options open later for student access. The staff welcomes feedback from students and organizations that use the SUB.
To reserve rooms, learn more about the Student Union and Activities, or leave feedback, visit this website or stop by the Student Union Operations & Reservations office in room 203 of the SUB.