opsis architecture

Gonzaga’s John J. Hemmingson Center – transforming the student experience

Gonzaga-Hemmingson-Center, Skyline Magazine, Hoffman Construction Company

After years of dreams, planning, and hard work, the new John J. Hemmingson Center is transforming the student experience at Gonzaga University.

This article was originally published in “Skyline”, by Hoffman Construction Company – 20 April 2016

The light-filled, 169,000 square-foot building bustles with activity. Students fill the large cafeteria, which resembles an up-scale mall food court with its array of cuisine options. Traffic is heavy on the expansive “main street” as people stroll past Starbucks, a natural foods grocery, a Technology Center and more.

Students congregate in comfortable areas that encourage socializing and interaction. Meanwhile, in secluded spaces on the periphery, people study, listen to music, or just enjoy some private time.

Fortune Rodriguez, a junior majoring in Business Administration, is parked on a couch with his coffee, textbooks, and an iPad. He says the Hemmingson Center has “everything that a student needs. I love the blend of social areas with spaces where you can kick back and relax.”

“The University wanted a building designed for connectivity, to bring the campus community together around the core elements of the Gonzaga experience – academics, student development, faith, and global impact.” Chuck Faulkinberry Director, Hemmingson Center and Auxiliary Services

Chuck Faulkinberry, the Center’s Director, says that the building is performing exactly as intended. Standing at the top of the elegant curving staircase that rises three floors above the atrium, Faulkinberry looks like a happy man as he surveys the busy scene below. “Every corner of this building is in use, even on nights and weekends.”

An experienced team tackles ambitious goals

The design-build team of Hoffman, Opsis Architecture, and Bernardo Wills Architects (BWA) was no stranger to challenging higher education projects. Key members of Hoffman and Opsis were coming off a new Performing Arts Center for Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where their collaborative process delivered a multi-program building within a sensitive budget. The Gonzaga project had some ambitious goals. Beyond a modern student center and campus gathering place, the University wanted a home for program elements ranging from the University Ministry and Center for Global Engagement, to student development programs such as Involvement & Leadership, Community Action and Service Learning, and Multicultural Education. The school set a high bar for sustainability, and established an aggressive schedule of just 22 months from groundbreaking to substantial completion. The site, situated on a main east/ west axis of the campus, challenged Hoffman to maintain safe pedestrian and vehicle flow and avoid impact to the adjacent library, residence halls, recreation center, and retail complex.

“We set out to design a building that would raise the bar for the student experience, at the same time it reinforced the cultural and spiritual mission of the University.” Alec Holser Principal, Opsis Architecture

Read the full article here: HOFFMAN BUILDS: Gonzaga’s John J. Hemmingson Center – transforming the student experience

For more information about this project, please visit, here.

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