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Heart of Campus - UNLV

Awards Category

Unbuilt Architecture

Project Summary

UNLV Heart of Campus is a place for the student body to congregate, relax, meet, and enjoy the campus surroundings. It is the pulse of the student population and a place to embrace nature, the spirit of the university, and make and capture memories. This project turned an ordinary asphalt parking lot at the center of the campus and transformed it into a calm, cool place for students, faculty, administrators, and visitors to pass through, to stop and breath, to mingle with their colleagues, to pose for photographs, and to be part of a community.

Project Narrative

The quad, is the iconic center of university and college campuses around the United States. A crossroads between academic and student life, “the quad” con-jures images of students tossing a football before the big game, lazy afternoons sprawled on the grass, or springtime coffee dates of a budding new romance. This intersection of vibrant student life is created with UNLV’s Heart of Campus project. The Heart of Campus will be a flexible, comfortable gathering point for small or large groups. The design includes: a new campus arrival where visitors can express their UNLV pride; a series of pavilions to sit casually in the shade between classes, read, or meet with a study group; one larger pavilion that can double as an impromptu stage; an artificial lawn; two large plazas for big or small events; and a series of smaller intimate places for individuals to rest or reflect. The pavilions incorporate varied materials which refer to both the existing campus buildings and to to the rocky desert in which the University is situated. Patterned metal roof elements partially shield the seating areas below from the harsh sun. The paving in the ground plane establishes a splayed linear geometry, which rotates around the plaza and provides and organizing structure of hard and soft landscape elements. Aligning with walkways east, west, north and south, the Heart of Campus is a passageway, destination, or simply a break before class. Championing indigenous materials and desert flora, sustainability within the environment is celebrated across the space through materiality and plant life.

Sustainable Design & Materials

A rich palette of indigenous materials, colors, and plants inspires the design and feel of Heart of Campus to reflect the vitality of the region. Use of local materials (sandstone, rammed earth) reduces shipping impact while plantings add tree canopy and soften the angular buildings. The shade pavilions seen here are cool respites for students with the lighter color palette naturally reflecting sunlight rather than absorbing it. Flowers like indigo bush, peacock flower, and Apache plume bring color while showcasing southwestern native plants on campus. Design that reduces the use of irrigation is integral to UNLV’s sustainability plans; the Heart of Campus will be a shining example of desert beauty in a sustainable, urban environment.

Project Stats

Square Feet


Green Building Designation(s)

Date of Completion

Project Location

University of Nevada - Las Vegas, Lot "I", Las Vegas, Nevada

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