The popular campus center received a merit award this year.

The redesigned Ehinger Center, with it's expansion and wall of windows, won an award from the American Institute of Architects.
The redesigned Ehinger Center, with its expansion and wall of windows, won an award from the American Institute of Architects.

Drew University students know the Ehinger Center is a great place to study, eat, relax and meet friends. But the American Institute of Architects of New Jersey has also recognized the popular campus building for its renovated, expansive design.

This winter, the AIA New Jersey chapter awarded KSS Architects, LLP a merit Award for the Ehinger Center. The award ceremony was attended by James Hall, Drew’s director of planning, design and construction.

Hall said before the building’s renovation, the design was disjointed with public areas inconveniently located. “Now it’s designed to reflect how people actually use the building,” he said. “It’s comfortable. It’s a tremendous improvement.”

The Ehinger Center is one of the most-used buildings on campus. It’s home to a student café, two lounge areas, a performance space, a pub, administrative offices, and other common areas. In 2012, it re-opened after a yearlong addition. The new Ehinger Center got an additional 3,000 square feet in space, a raised roofline, fireplaces, a two-story rotunda, a wall of windows looking out onto the campus and a barrel-vaulted ceiling—along with a new name.

“We are thrilled that the design of the Ehinger Center was recognized by the American Institute of Architects of New Jersey,” said Pamela Rew, partner, KSS Architects. “Great time and care was taken to work with the university to design a project that would elevate student life and create a rich learning environment,” she added. “The Ehinger Center truly is the heart of the campus.”

With its wall of windows, the building seamlessly blends outside and inside. Punched skylights add to the airy, well-lit environment. And the Ehinger Center, along with being home to campus offices, student clubs and the campus pub, is a well-used space that makes visitors feel at home.

Michael Kopas, Drew’s assistant vice president who oversees facilities, said, “The project was a tremendously successful collaborative effort right from the beginning. A design can only be successful when there is a clear understanding of the goals at the very outset. The project team did an excellent job in all aspects.”

The center was named in honor of Drew Trustee Tony Ehinger C’80, and his wife, Marianne Hyzak Ehinger C’80, who committed $3 million in support of the project. Initially, Tony Ehinger raised $500,000 from members of his graduating class to renovate the center’s pub, now known as the C’80 Pub. Other key donors include John H. Crawford III T’65, past chair of the board of trustees, and his wife, Cathie ’64, who gave $1 million to create a new lecture hall that doubles as event space, and trustee Gates Hawn and his wife, Mary Ellen, who donated $300,000 for a commuter lounge.

Ehinger, a retired investment banker who met early on with architect Victoria Pivovarnick of KSS Associates in Princeton, N.J., dropped by the site regularly during construction. “It’s gorgeous—awesome,” Ehinger said at the time. “But what’s going to be even cooler is seeing kids enjoying the space.”