AIA Merit Award – The Hub at Douthit Hills, Clemson University

Building View of Douthit Hills Student Community Hub

We were thrilled to be awarded AIA South Carolina’s Merit Award for our work at Douthit Hills at Clemson University

Among the greatest strengths of The Hub is the benefit it delivers to the student experience. The project was conceived to support projected growth on campus and the opportunity was taken to be visionary. The entirety of the Douthit Hills development represents a remarkable transformation for student life at Clemson, and The Hub is the central piece.

The success of this project is tied to a close working relationship between the client and the designer, with a consistent eye toward the end user. This relationship allowed the vision for this building to clarify during the design process. The project as initially imagined in the master plan needed to be re-evaluated in a thoughtful way to provide the student experience desired. There was great excitement for this project, and the desire was to have a vibrant community that would serve both upperclass and first-year students, while creating a new welcoming gateway. This excitement was crucial to the success of the project, and it was important to harness that excitement and use in the service of enhancing student life on campus.

President Emeritus James F. Barker, FAIA took an early interest in the planning process behind the precinct and the Hub in particular. His analogy from a workshop, “They are designing the hole in the donut,” to explain the light court in the center of the building that would serve as the nexus point of the precinct was a clear and direct way to communicate the design to other University stakeholders.

During the programming and design process, the design team and client worked together to identify and prioritize what program might go in the building to support the project financing and make the best use of the university’s resources to have the greatest impact on student life. It became clear in the design process that the best way to support students was to focus on what was important to them, and what would create the most active community. A focus on dining, wellness, and retail spaces provides a mix of uses and interactions. Students may sit together at a communal dining table, or work-out individually but together in a spin studio.

Now that it has opened, these meaningful student interactions are currently taking place. The Hub is fulfilling its intended purpose as place to gather and interact. Clemson students are able to access the best in student life resources and are making these spaces their own.