Sam Houston State University – Lowman Student Center

  • area / size 79,200 sqft
  • Completed 2019
  • EYP completed the Lowman Student Center for Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

    Originally constructed in 1964, the Lowman Student Center at Sam Houston State University (SHSU) underwent numerous additions and reconfigurations over the years. In response to growing enrollment and a goal of elevating amenities to better compete with peer institutions, EYP was selected in 2016 to design a larger, more inviting student center, breathing new life into this most crucial component of campus life. The first step was developing a holistic Master Plan to address the existing building’s fragmented and crowded character and ultimately unite the entire facility. This key emphasis on unification would dramatically enhance the academic stature of the institution, drive further growth in enrollment, and provide an environment where students can thrive in all aspects of their experiences at SHSU.

    EYP’s integrated design of the two-story 79,200 SF addition centered around a large atrium that serves as a central “living room” space, horizontally and vertically connecting the new and existing components of the building. Designed to maximize daylight and provide access to sweeping views, the addition houses food vendors and supporting dining facilities, and a relocated “Kat Klub” with pool tables, ping pong tables, an eight-lane bowling alley, and other such attractions on the first floor. The second floor features a large divisible ballroom, meeting rooms for congregation and study, pre-function spaces, lounges and other programmable amenities. The space between the addition and the existing building, connected together on one end by the atrium, defines a new outdoor courtyard where students can gather as an extension of the “living room.” Directly adjacent to the first floor dining commons, the courtyard can also accommodate additional seating under large ceiling fans to further activate the space. Landscaping in the courtyard steps down from the western edge of the site toward the atrium entrance, creating a series of grassy platforms that can also serve as an outdoor amphitheater.

    One of the first focal points for students and visitors, the reimagined Lowman Student Center is the popular heart of the campus. Throughout the facility, designers intentionally incorporated elements of the SHSU brand – including inspiration from the school colors – through strategic wayfinding to foster pride, awareness, and a sense of place. The facility’s impact goes beyond the university setting, however. The new ballroom and gathering spaces are unlike anything else found in surrounding areas and will be used by the larger community.

    The design is about more than simply programming: the resulting unification is revitalizing the student center, ensuring that the university is exceeding its vision for future growth. A true partnership between EYP, the Division of Student Affairs and the broader Sam Houston State Community, the collective goal for the Lowman Student Center is nothing short of transformational—into a facility worthy of Sam Houston State University’s stature as one of the fastest growing universities in Texas.

    Architect: EYP
    Photography: Peter Molick