FEATURE — Spring 2009

The Danforth University Center’s Tisch Commons proved the perfect spot for students to watch the 2009 Presidential Inauguration. (Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.)

The Perfect Gathering Place

The University opened the Danforth University Center on August 11, 2008. It quickly became the hub of activity.

One of the nation’s oldest college newspapers, Student Life, has a new home. The chronicler of issues of import to students now sits within the newest, most central gathering spot on the Danforth Campus, the William H. and Elizabeth Gray Danforth University Center.

Jason Lin (left) and Peter Chieng, both Engineering Class of ’09, meet in another favorite gathering place in the Center, the second-floor “fun room.” (Photo: Joe Angeles)

“Our new offices in the Danforth Center are located in the center of campus and at the intersection of so many events,” says Sam Guzik, editor-in-chief of Student Life. “It’s really nice to be so close to the action and, at the same time, to have all the resources that the Danforth University Center affords.”

Student Life isn’t the only student organization enjoying the new Center. Count in Student Union; Office of Student Activities; Greek Life; other student media, including WUTV; and many more. University departments with a student focus have spaces there as well, such as the Community Service Office, Career Center, and Campus Life.

Since its opening on August 11, 2008, the buzz about the Center and its common areas, dining venues, courtyards, meeting and office spaces has been loud and affirmative. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, neighbors, and friends have a place at the table, so to speak.

The servery offers menu options from DeliciOSO, Trattoria Verde, Wash. U. Wok, George’s Express, and the 1853 Diner. The Dains Dining Hall and the Orchid Room offer dining seating nearby. (Photo: Joe Angeles)

“After the Student Life office, my favorite part of the building is the formal lounge,” Guzik says. “It has one of the greatest views on campus, and it’s a great place to go to relax and decompress from a busy day.”

Another favorite gathering spot, visited by hundreds of students a day, is the Tisch Commons, aptly named to recognize a $2 million gift to the Center by University trustee Ann Rubenstein Tisch, A.B. ’76, and her husband, Andrew.

“The Tisch Commons is one of the most architecturally interesting places we now have on our Danforth Campus,” says Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. “This exceptionally generous gift from Ann and Andrew enables us to establish the Commons as an important center of campus activity, for which we are very grateful.”

Near the Tisch Commons is another heavily trafficked area: the John F. and Stephanie Brooks Dains Dining Hall. The chancellor announced its naming in recognition of another generous gift—this one by Stephanie Brooks Dains, A.B. ’69, and her husband, John, B.S.B.A. ’68.

The fire pit in the Edison Family Courtyard was a good spot for students to socialize in the lead-up to the Vice Presidential Debate. (Photo: Joe Angeles)

“Washington University is very grateful for this remarkable gift from John and Stephanie,” Wrighton says. “The Dains Dining Hall is now the main dining area on campus, and, as such, it is destined to become a favorite setting for our students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, and parents who will gather here as a community.”

Another hub of the Danforth University Center is the Angel and Paul Harvey Media Center, named for the late “Angel” Cooper Harvey, an alumna, and her late husband, Paul Harvey, the legendary broadcaster. Both were generous benefactors of Washington University over many years.

Courtyards surround the Danforth University Center. Here, students gather to eat lunch on Ibby’s Patio. (Photo: Joe Angeles)

“Angel Harvey loved Washington University and wished to make it as special a place for current and future students as it was for her,” Wrighton says.

The Harvey Media Center provides workspace for several print publications, including Student Life and The Hatchet, and for WUTV, which now has a professionally designed news set where students can create state-of-the-art programs.

“State-of-the-art” can be applied to the entire Center, for which students had design input. University administrators even took a group of student leaders to the Boulder, Colorado, headquarters of Communication Arts, Inc., which designed three dining areas and the “fun room.” These leaders took part in a charrette that resulted in the fun room’s concept and design. Student input also influenced the style and menus of the eateries in the Center.

“She [Ibby] would see the new Danforth University Center as a special place

where students can gather with their friends and classmates for activities and talks, for learning, and for growing,” says Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth.

The Danforth University Center is a three-story, 116,000-square-foot facility that is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-NC Gold certified. To cap off its first academic year, the Center will be officially dedicated on April 17, 2009. (Photo: Joe Angeles)

Overall design of the three-story, 116,000-square-foot facility was conceived by architects Tsoi/Kobus and Associates of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The construction, by Clayco of St. Louis, was supported in part by a gift from the Danforth Foundation. A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc. (now Wachovia Securities, LLC) and the Edison, Newman, and Freund families also provided leadership gifts. Overall, some 50 generous gifts have been received from trustees, alumni, parents, and other friends of the University.

In speaking about the new Center, Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth says: “Ibby would be very pleased by having her name attached to this wonderful Center. I have countless warm memories of our years together at Washington University. She would see the new Danforth University Center as a special place where students can gather with their friends and classmates for activities and talks, for learning, and for growing.”

Compiled and written by Terri Nappier, magazine editor; contributing writer Barbara Rea, director of major events and special projects.