In 2010, Liberty University embarked upon an ambitious building campaign – guided by a new campus master plan – designed to dramatically recast the campus’ physical identity and envision a new physical core. A reinvigorated commitment to a student-centered landscape sparked the elimination of poorly-built metal buildings and haphazard parking lots and roadways to make way for a new Commons – a campus lawn space that organizes key academic and student life buildings around a Campus Walk. The keystone of the Commons is the Montview Union – which fronts the Campus Walk and energizes its full eastern edge with active student life programs and retail dining venues that spill out onto the building’s broad steps and into its arcades and elevated porches.

The Montview Union is not a stand-alone structure. It is actually an addition to the largest academic building on campus, DeMoss Hall. The Union springs off the blank back wall of DeMoss, breaks down its scale, and creates an inviting and welcoming front that supports the new Commons and Campus Walk. Connecting the Union to the core academic building on campus transforms what once was an inwardly-focused “big box” into a dynamic joint center for academic and student life.

In 2010, Liberty University embarked upon an ambitious building campaign – guided by a new campus master plan – designed to dramatically recast the campus’ physical identity and envision a new physical core. A reinvigorated commitment to a student-centered landscape sparked the elimination of poorly-built metal buildings and haphazard parking lots and roadways to make way for a new Commons – a campus lawn space that organizes key academic and student life buildings around a Campus Walk. The keystone of the Commons is the Montview Union – which fronts the Campus Walk and energizes its full eastern edge with active student life programs and retail dining venues that spill out onto the building’s broad steps and into its arcades and elevated porches.

The Montview Union is not a stand-alone structure. It is actually an addition to the largest academic building on campus, DeMoss Hall. The Union springs off the blank back wall of DeMoss, breaks down its scale, and creates an inviting and welcoming front that supports the new Commons and Campus Walk. Connecting the Union to the core academic building on campus transforms what once was an inwardly-focused “big box” into a dynamic joint center for academic and student life.

Liberty University Montview Student Union + Dining
Liberty University Montview Student Union + Dining

The Union’s entrance is marked by a graceful canopy and monumental steps that reach out to the campus and engage the landscape. Students enjoy the shelter and seating of the porch, and the raised stone platform can be used as a performance space for events like graduation. The exterior’s sense of solidity is balanced by careful attention to materials that add texture and color to the interior. The building’s massing forms a multi-story atrium – a central gathering space where filtered natural light penetrates deep into the building to animate the space. At night, the atrium glows like a lantern, offering opportunities for camaraderie within.

As a magnetic social destination, the atrium provides much needed student lounge, study, and gathering areas between classes. A vibrant open room, the atrium encourages chance encounters and community-building while simultaneously maintaining a sense of intimacy for students to be alone or study in small groups. The room is vertically integrated with connecting stairs that offer an intuitive wayfinding experience. A variety of seating options allows students to have a quick chat, or settle in for longer study. A carefully crafted wooden screen wall acts as a hearth – a recognizable element that supports gathering.

The Union’s entrance is marked by a graceful canopy and monumental steps that reach out to the campus and engage the landscape. Students enjoy the shelter and seating of the porch, and the raised stone platform can be used as a performance space for events like graduation. The exterior’s sense of solidity is balanced by careful attention to materials that add texture and color to the interior. The building’s massing forms a multi-story atrium – a central gathering space where filtered natural light penetrates deep into the building to animate the space. At night, the atrium glows like a lantern, offering opportunities for camaraderie within.

As a magnetic social destination, the atrium provides much needed student lounge, study, and gathering areas between classes. A vibrant open room, the atrium encourages chance encounters and community-building while simultaneously maintaining a sense of intimacy for students to be alone or study in small groups. The room is vertically integrated with connecting stairs that offer an intuitive wayfinding experience. A variety of seating options allows students to have a quick chat, or settle in for longer study. A carefully crafted wooden screen wall acts as a hearth – a recognizable element that supports gathering.

Liberty University Montview Student Union
Liberty University Montview Student Union
Liberty University Montview Student Union

The Union is home to a variety of social, student life, and dining opportunities, customized to serve Liberty’s unique culture. Student lounges, study spaces, and meeting rooms provide flexible places for studying and gathering. On the topmost floor, a multipurpose event room enjoys views of campus while, on lower floors, a bowling alley and technology-rich game areas encourage recreational fun. The Union is most populated during the early evening, when student leadership groups such as Student Government and Clubs + Orgs populate open work areas. Such components of the Union have prominent locations in the building and find useful expression on the exterior to draw students in and encourage them to participate.

Student Life Professionals are strategically integrated throughout the building to serve and support students. The Campus Services department is located near the building’s entrance and acts as a central information gathering hub. Departments such as the Center for Multicultural Enrichment and the Military Veterans Center help champion the Union’s mission through outreach and events that build an educational community out of diversity.

The Union is home to a variety of social, student life, and dining opportunities, customized to serve Liberty’s unique culture. Student lounges, study spaces, and meeting rooms provide flexible places for studying and gathering. On the topmost floor, a multipurpose event room enjoys views of campus while, on lower floors, a bowling alley and technology-rich game areas encourage recreational fun. The Union is most populated during the early evening, when student leadership groups such as Student Government and Clubs + Orgs populate open work areas. Such components of the Union have prominent locations in the building and find useful expression on the exterior to draw students in and encourage them to participate.

Student Life Professionals are strategically integrated throughout the building to serve and support students. The Campus Services department is located near the building’s entrance and acts as a central information gathering hub. Departments such as the Center for Multicultural Enrichment and the Military Veterans Center help champion the Union’s mission through outreach and events that build an educational community out of diversity.

Students can choose between six unique micro-restaurants, each with their own distinctive food inspired atmosphere and emphasis on celebrating food preparation.
Students can choose between six unique micro-restaurants, each with their own distinctive food inspired atmosphere and emphasis on celebrating food preparation.

The Union’s dining options create socially-rich destinations where students can gather together to participate in meals that strengthen their relationships with each other and with LU. Students can choose between six unique micro-restaurants, each offering its own distinctive atmosphere and celebrating healthy food preparation. Thoughtful furniture, interior signage, and circulation strategies guide students in coming together to experience the ritual of meal-sharing.

Flexibility is achieved through multi-purpose components that allow dining services to throttle service up during peak meal times and down again during off-hours – allowing dining areas to double as places for entertainment, recreation, and study. The 3-Seasons Dining Room can be reserved for communal gathering and events featuring family-style dining. In good weather, large windows open to campus views and garden al fresco meals.

The Union’s dining options create socially-rich destinations where students can gather together to participate in meals that strengthen their relationships with each other and with LU. Students can choose between six unique micro-restaurants, each offering its own distinctive atmosphere and celebrating healthy food preparation. Thoughtful furniture, interior signage, and circulation strategies guide students in coming together to experience the ritual of meal-sharing.

Flexibility is achieved through multi-purpose components that allow dining services to throttle service up during peak meal times and down again during off-hours – allowing dining areas to double as places for entertainment, recreation, and study. The 3-Seasons Dining Room can be reserved for communal gathering and events featuring family-style dining. In good weather, large windows open to campus views and garden al fresco meals.

Liberty University Montview Student Union + Dining
Liberty University Montview Student Union + Dining
Liberty University Montview Student Union + Dining

The Union implements many sustainable design practices, both as an independent building and as a harbinger of campus improvements.

Daylighting, Views + Lighting

Generous windows and skylights bathe the Union in natural light and reinforce connections to the campus outside. Daylight harvesting sensors ensure the quality of natural light and moderate necessary artificial lighting levels accordingly. As part of a campus-wide upgrade plan, the Union utilizes energy-saving LED fixtures with wireless lighting controls that analyze and measure lighting use. Wireless occupancy and vacancy sensors automatically switch lights off in unoccupied rooms. Such strategies improve the campus environment, reduce energy bills, and ultimately pass savings on to student programs.

Dining Services & Recycling

Sodexho, Liberty’s dining services provider, stopped using trays – which encourages healthy portions and significantly reduces the amount of food being thrown out. Food waste is taken to Liberty’s Morris Campus Garden, where an in-vessel composter transforms waste into nutrients. Seasonal crops that are grown in the garden, in turn, are donated to dining services and incorporated into food preparation.

The Union implements many sustainable design practices, both as an independent building and as a harbinger of campus improvements.

Daylighting, Views + Lighting

Generous windows and skylights bathe the Union in natural light and reinforce connections to the campus outside. Daylight harvesting sensors ensure the quality of natural light and moderate necessary artificial lighting levels accordingly. As part of a campus-wide upgrade plan, the Union utilizes energy-saving LED fixtures with wireless lighting controls that analyze and measure lighting use. Wireless occupancy and vacancy sensors automatically switch lights off in unoccupied rooms. Such strategies improve the campus environment, reduce energy bills, and ultimately pass savings on to student programs.

Dining Services & Recycling

Sodexho, Liberty’s dining services provider, stopped using trays – which encourages healthy portions and significantly reduces the amount of food being thrown out. Food waste is taken to Liberty’s Morris Campus Garden, where an in-vessel composter transforms waste into nutrients. Seasonal crops that are grown in the garden, in turn, are donated to dining services and incorporated into food preparation.

Liberty University Montview Student Union + Dining

Client: Liberty University

Location: Lynchburg, VA

Discipline: Student Life

Completion: 2016

Size: 158,000 SF