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UNF Student Union voted top building in state

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The University of North Florida's Student Union has been recognized by the Florida Chapter of The American Institute of Architects as the best educational building in Florida and voted the top building in the state by architects' votes.

UNF's Student Union was also voted by the public as the No. 4 building overall in the state and is the only local building in the top five.

"We're thrilled to have been voted as the No. 1 educational facility in Florida and to be selected as the top pick by architects," said Zak Ovadia, director of UNF Campus Planning, Design and Construction. "It's also an honor to be among the buildings recognized by AIA as the top 100 buildings that have beneficially added to the unique architectural fabric of Jacksonville and northeast Florida."

In March, AIA Florida launched the Top 100 buildings statewide online competition, inviting the public to vote for their favorite Florida building. This year marks the 100th anniversary of AIA Florida, recognizing the important contributions architects have made in the Sunshine State.

The competition identified 100 structures across the state that represents the best in architectural achievement. The public was encouraged to vote online, and more than 2.4 million votes were cast overall.

Designed by Rink Design Partnership Inc., the 150,000-square-foot Student Union was completed in 2009. The $40.1 million facility was programmed to be the focal points for student activities and programs, dining facilities and offices for Student Government as well as the Division of Student and International Affairs.

The Student Union is in two parts separated by a student plaza, called Osprey Plaza, with a sunshade feature, which along with the curvature of the building, creates a most distinctive visual effect. Both buildings are three stories and are comprised of a steel structure with brick and metal cladding.

The east building is mostly administrative and houses all Student Government functions, Student and International Affairs offices, a bank, a Starbucks and snack store, the game room and studios for Osprey Radio and Osprey TV.

The west building contains a food court with five fast-food outlets on the main floor, the UNF Bookstore (two stories), the Boathouse restaurant and various meeting rooms on the second level, four ballrooms on the third level along with numerous student lounges and meeting rooms of various capacities.

One of the most unique elements of the Student Union is a 108,000-square-foot grass amphitheater with a permanent stage. Located behind the west building, the amphitheater, which can seat 6,000 spectators, is constructed with a nine-degree elevation for optimum viewing by crowds attending concerts, performances, fairs and other events.

The Student Union follows the university's other new buildings on campus as a certified "green" building, meaning it uses energy-saving measures, recycled materials and natural light to improve the work environment.