Our Work

Powell Student Center Renovation

Eastern Kentucky University

New branding highlights the updated student hang-out spaces.

Credits: in association with Hastings+Chivetta

Project Photos

Project Details

Constructed in 1971, the Powell Center occupies a central and prominent position on Eastern Kentucky University’s (EKU) campus. As a crucial component of EKU’s campus revitalization strategy, the university set its sights on transforming the center into a harmonious, vibrant hub that encapsulates the spirit of the campus community.

Sherman Carter Barnhart was hired to formulate and execute a rejuvenation plan that would accentuate the student-centric character of the Powell Center. The comprehensive solution involved user information gathering sessions, benchmark assessments, and a physical and functional assessment of the building. A vital aspect of this process was to actively involve the students – the primary users of the space. To capture a wide range of perspectives, numerous meetings were held with diverse student groups. Moreover, the entirety of the student body was invited to participate in web-based surveys, incentivizing participation with a chance to win random prizes.

From the user input and building assessments, the design team crafted a plan to unify the spaces by enhancing the student experience with revamped student life program spaces.
The revitalized Powell Center makes the most of its central location, featuring student lounges, student services including a pantry and veterans services, retail outlets, dining establishments, banking services, and a bookstore at the entry/plaza level. The intermediate floor caters to the university’s administrative needs, housing offices and meeting spaces. The top floor introduces a new campus hotspot with versatile conference/meeting rooms, prefunction spaces, a catering room, and service areas. The renovated building is also equipped with interactive wayfinding and scheduling monitors, as well as cloud-based EKU communications.

The renovation harmoniously blends the mid-century modern heritage with contemporary interiors, while enhancing mechanical and electrical systems for increased comfort and functionality. The renovated Powell Center provides an array of exciting amenities including a relocated bookstore, dedicated spaces for the Student Government, a state-of-the-art game room featuring video games developed at EKU, an expanded multicultural area, and meeting spaces to accommodate diverse campus activities.