Pryzbyla Center

The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC

The Pryzbyla University Center for The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, is the focus of campus activities and acts as a living room to bring together students, faculty and staff for intellectual and social activities. The 100,000 square foot facility includes the consolidation of board plan and retail food court dining operations formerly housed in seven locations, a multi-purpose ballroom, formal and informal lounges and meeting rooms, a rathskeller, the bookstore, student organization space and Student Life offices.

The building extends from the end of the School of Architecture on the south, facing east toward a green space over the underground parking garage built in conjunction with the Columbus School of Law, completed in 1992. The building also opens at the middle level onto a new landscaped campus commons that is enclosed on the north by the extension of a wing housing the bookstore. A bridge across the campus service road connects the middle level with the Centennial Village residence halls to the north.

The building is organized on three floors. The lower level contains service areas, the central kitchen sized for the consolidated board plan, food court and ballroom dining operations, a retail sundries area, student organization offices along the east wall toward the Law School quadrangle, an entrance from the east side of the building and the active lounge occupying the bottom of the building's atrium, while the lower level of the two story bookstore occupies the western wing. The middle level provides the main entrance into the atrium and lounges from the western, main campus side of the building and the Commons, while also housing the Food Court, Campus Programs offices, Campus Information Center, meeting rooms and the upper level of the two story bookstore in the western wing. The upper level houses the Board Plan dining operation, the Ballroom, meeting rooms and the Student Life offices in the western wing.

Since no college or university can afford to build single-use spaces which remain empty and lifeless much of the time, the design strives to maximize the potential for multi-purpose use of the ballroom, dining, lounge and meeting spaces to provide flexibility and enhance social interaction. For example, the Food Court becomes the Rathskeller after hours, and segments of both the Food Court and Board Dining areas along the exterior wall are structured to create enclosed meeting and work areas in the evening and break-out rooms for conferences held in the Ballroom during the summer.


2003 Award for Excellence
AIA Northeastern Pennsylvania
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