Career Connections Center

The Career Connections Center project entailed a complete, $6.8M renovation and expansion of the UF Career Resource Center, nearly doubling the existing 15,400 square foot facility. Prominently located on the first floor of the Reitz Union, the re-imagined 28,940 square foot Career Connections Center infills over 9,500 square feet of open space around the existing first floor, and incorporates over 4,500 square feet of dedicated space on the ground floor, unified by a new interior connecting stair.

A dynamic new entry transforms and emphasizes the connection between the Career Connection Center and the Reitz Union to attract visitors and encourage students to engage with the Center as an integral part of their college experience. An intervening 10° angle in the plan recognizes a relocated egress stair from the Ballroom above and maximizes infilled space. This canted intervention manifests itself as a reoccurring geometry throughout the center, including prominent locations at its entry and middle core which deliberately provide clear North-South views through the center.

Thinking beyond the limits of architecture, the Design Team placed themselves into the perspective of the Employees, Employers, and Students using the Center, and developed a unique, timeless solution to revitalize the Center through the implementation of a biophilic design concept; connecting human biology and the design of the built environment. 

While the Career Connection Center seeks to engage students by offering an inviting, dynamic, professional environment where all feel welcome and comfortable, the concept of biophilic design seeks to create a habitat for people that satisfies our inherent need to connect with nature. The design provides a bridge to the professional world by fostering positive, sustained interactions and relationships among people and the natural environment. In turn, the Career Connections Center acts as the bridge that connects a student’s current and past life with their future professional life at the scales of the individual, university, and career as a whole.

The Architectural and Interior design contributed to this through:

  • Colors & materials derived from nature, particularly drawing from the swamps, shores, and wetlands of Florida, as well as the high-tech university atmosphere, embodied the Career Connection Center’s modern, professional image and strong identity within Florida, and the UF campus culture.
  • Bridge Elements: Wood ceilings and carpet textures create large-scale patterns and dramatic architectural
    elements that symbolize a pathway through the natural Florida Landscape. “A pathway through the swamp” is
    both a literal and figurative metaphor of navigating through the college and career experience.
  • Biomorphic forms, pattern, and visual & tactile textures: Articulated bamboo wall panels, 3D fabrics, and highly textured tiles invoke the surrounding natural landscape.
  • Pattern: Resin Panels, Vinyl applique on glazing, and luxury vinyl tile represent nature translated through modern materials with a technological edge.
  • Environmental graphics and branding: A myriad of diverse, multi-format wall and window signage and graphics provide dynamic visuals that create drama, attract attention, and strengthen the Career Connection Center’s unique identity.

The renovation and expansion of the Reitz Student Union, built in 1967, expanded facilities, services, and programs supporting the University of Florida’s diverse campus community, increased energy efficiency, reduced operational costs, and greatly enhanced comfort and functionality.

Phase 1, the 100,000 sf addition, included entry and food court renovations, meeting rooms, lounges, dance rehearsal studios, a ballroom, and offices and support space for the Center for Leadership and Service, the Department of Student Activities and Involvement, the Office of Multicultural and Diversity Affairs, GatorWell Health Promotion Services, and student clubs and organizations.

Phase 2, the 50,000 sf renovation, included new energy-efficient windows and doors, restoration of exterior surfaces and structural components, replacement and upgrades of electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems, and upgrades to interior finishes and lighting. 

Careful phasing ensured that the Reitz continued to serve UF’s 50,000 students throughout construction.

Project Owner

University of Florida

Location

Gainesville, FL

Completion Date

August 2018

Project Size

28,940 SF

Cost

$6,830,972

Contractor

Scorpio

Delivery Method

Construction Management

Partners

MEPF: Moses & Associates; Structural: Structural Engineers Group; Civil: CHW Professional Consultants

LEED Certification

Pursuing Gold

Design
  purposeful
Spaces

Selected Works

Taylor ResidenceCustom Residence

St Augustine Government House RehabilitationFirst LEED Certified Historic Building in Florida

Clinical Techniques & Skills Assessment LabDelivering a Premier Clinical Simulation Lab

University of Miami Life SciencesNanotechnology Researchers Gain a Highly Specialized Lab

Exactech Parking GarageWelcome to Exactech

Shands Facilities Administration BuildingOpen Plan Design Promotes Collaboration

Oak Hall School Media CenterCreating a Place of Wonder for Young Readers

Career Connections CenterThe Bridge from College to Professional Life

LifeSouth RenovationElevating the Donor Experience

Legal Advocacy CenterReal World Facility for Law Students

Indoor Tennis Practice FacilityNow Any Weather is Tennis Weather

Florida FFA HeadquartersFormer Daycare Re-purposed as Space for Emerging Leaders

IT PRO.tv RenovationA Launchpad for Online Learning

Chi Institute ExpansionModern Facility for Ancient Healing Arts

Basic Science Building Lab RenovationMaking an Old Laboratory New

Austin Cary Conference CenterNature Shapes Design

Facade Renovations for Trimark PropertiesA Distinctive Facade Within the Innovation District

Reitz Union Expansion and RenovationEmphasizing a Sense of Place for Gators

UF Health Family Medicine - Haile PlantationHealthcare as an Integral Neighborhood Element

Phi Mu Sorority HouseReorganized Spaces Provide Maximum Benefit