A History of the Student Union

Zach Singer

By: Zach Singer, Contributing Writer

Prior to serving as a comprehensive, student-oriented hub, receiving a nomination from AIA Florida and winning the Merit Design Award from American Institute of Architects in 2010, the Student Union was no more than a couple of offices and a game room in Building 14.

When he first arrived at UNF in 2005, Zak Ovadia, director of campus planning, design and construction, described the Student Union as dark and dingy with a few token games. The dramatic difference between then and now reflects the university on the whole.

“Many new buildings on campus, but specifically the Student Union, have contributed to the metamorphosis of the UNF campus from a commuter school to a nationally recognized institution for its character, ecological sensitivity and the quality of its education,” Ovadia said.

(Photo courtesy of Aero Photo)


Then Student Body President Alex Diaz had an idea for a more comprehensive Student Union 14 years ago. Diaz spent six years advocating with Student Government for a better Student Union. However, construction did not get under way until 2007.


(Photo courtesy of Aero Photo)




Originally, the plan was to add floors to Building 14, but cost and space constraints changed those plans and a new, more inclusive Student Union was designed, said David Crabtree, director of the Student Union. By September 2008, the East building looked close to completion.

(Photo courtesy of Aero Photo)





Completed in 2009, the Student Union received a gold certification, the second highest achievement for being an extremely environmentally friendly building and meets all of the requirements of the US Green Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to sustainable building design and construction.


Email Zach Singer at [email protected]