Eastern Washington University, Pence Union Building


For nearly 50 years, the Pence Union Building (PUB) stood as an awkward and unappreciated union. Previously called one of the 20 “most appalling excuses for architecture on college campuses” by MSNBC, the original 1970 PUB was aptly described by students as “dark”, “confusing”, and “maze-like,” and well in need of an upgrade. With enrollment growing at Eastern Washington, students sought a place to study, dine, and engage. Our redesign transformed the outdated 1968 building into a light-filled, amenity rich space that creates a home-away-from-home for all students at Eastern Washington University.

The design concept behind the renovation focuses on improving the “seam” between the two eras—knitting together the old and the new. A “main street” connection creates two dominant entries: one to the south facing campus mall and one to the north greeting the flow of traffic from transit, athletics, and student housing. The PUB has become a student-facing building with something for everyone. The expansive dining area wraps around the atrium with a variety of eating and lounge seating. A comfortable commuter lounge offers space for students to hang out while waiting for public transportation. And glass walls lining the atrium ensure student organizations are highly visible—encouraging everyone to get involved.