At this year’s AIA Kentucky Honor Awards, the Gatton Student Center at University of Kentucky was recognized for excellence in architectural design.
Omni Architects served as architect of record for the project and partnered with global design firm Perkins + Will on the $176 million renovation. Tipton Associates was retained to design all of the foodservice and dining venues in the 338,000 square-foot facility, including the 650-seat All You Care to Eat dining inside Champions Kitchen, national retail brands, a catering kitchen to serve the entire UK campus, and support kitchens for the two ballrooms. The AIA Kentucky Jury had this to say:
“Overall, this design was an elegant solution addressing challenges of existing buildings, context, and site circulation patterns. The various programmatic spaces are well developed with individual solutions for each, and the circulation plan is also very inviting. The social stair acts not only as circulation but as a dynamic piece that makes the atrium/lobby active and vibrant. The juxtaposition of textures, tones, colors, and patterns in the exterior and interior design results in a perfectly blended use of contemporary materials with traditional, heavy and light, and bright and neutral. Even the historic gym feels right at home in this composition because of the thoughtful use of overall forms to blend disparate styles and materials.
The project also included local materials as well as local food and vending options for the users; this shows the attention to detail and the strong desire for sustainable thinking in the architecture and the community. The fact that standalone spaces for the Dr. MLK Jr., LGBTQ, and International Students Centers are included also demonstrates an investment in social and cultural equity and its importance for the stakeholders.”
Tipton Associates partnered again with Omni Architects in 2019 for the expansion of Champions Kitchen, the residential dining space. Second and third floors of the expansion are devoted to new student services. “The Student Center has become the living room of our campus even more quickly than we anticipated,” said Eric Monday, University of Kentucky Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration. “It’s the heartbeat of our campus and has become the central gathering and dining space for much of the community.” The expanded space opened in in fall 2021. See the full list of 2021 AIA Kentucky Honor Award winners here.