New Orange Carpet Wins ACUI Award for KSS Architects

For Immediate Release

New Orange Carpet Wins ACUI Award for KSS Architects
The Renewed Thomas Commons Student Center Keeps Time-Honored Tradition Underfoot.

Princeton, N. J.  April 10, 2015 – KSS Architects is pleased to receive a National Award of Excellence for the design of Cornell College’s Thomas Commons in Mount Vernon, Iowa.  The Association of College Unions International (ACUI) recognizes excellence in the design of student-centered facilities that support campus community building and student learning.

The Commons is reborn to define a front door to the college, embodying its cultural and architectural heritage while providing a showcase of campus life and achievements. Its outdoor spaces frame the beautiful campus landscape and support the ebb and flow of student life. The new façade adds vibrancy and blends with Cornell’s historic campus and architecture. Natural light shines through abundant windows and the atrium – breaking down barriers so students can “see and be seen”. Dining has also been overhauled within a new, glass-enclosed dining area that creates a more modern, marketplace servery – offering a greater variety of fresh food stations and snack choices.

At the heart - the Orange Carpet, Cornell’s popular “living room” area, remains the building’s unique hub.   According to students, at almost any time of day or night, camaraderie and community can be found by way of the new Orange Carpet, at the new Thomas Commons – now its place in student life resonates throughout the building.

John Harp, Vice President for Student Affairs, remarks: “I was asked - what is the impact of this building?  We often talk in terms of its physical nature: how it provides certain spaces for campus life to occur, how it is beautifully situated, and how it impacts on our ability to recruit and retain students.  But what’s at the heart of it? I think there is a deeper impact, even a primal impact that the Thomas Commons has on our senses every time we come in… seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling.  It is our version of Times Square: it appears a little differently each time we look at it…and it never gets old….it brings us together.  It makes people happy.  That is the impact of the Thomas Commons”. 

Take a tour of The Thomas Commons:

About KSS Architects – design architect

KSS Architects is an award-wining architectural design firm with offices in Princeton, NJ and Philadelphia, PA.  Our clients are leaders in their fields, representing the best in business, industry, education, development, culture, and community. KSS has a staff of near 60 dedicated professionals, passionate about creating stimulating environments that cultivate positive, meaningful and lasting change.

About OPN Architects – architect of record

OPN was founded in 1979 and is led by Principals Daniel Thies, Steven Knierim, Bradd Brown, Terry Gebard, David Sorg, Roger Worm,  Richard Seely and Wesley Reynolds. OPN is a regional-based design firm, comprised of 100+ talented individuals engaged in open collaboration. Our practice is built upon strong relationships—with our clients and each other—and a commitment to doing what we say we’ll do. As a firm we are committed to the highest standards of professional practice and we enjoy the process and results of creating architecture that exceeds our clients’ expectations. For more information, please visit