UDC Alum Gives Back Collage

A bridge inside the newly constructed student center at UDC leads to a room that will serve as office space for student organizations. The carpet and wooden storage lockers were made from reclaimed and recycled materials. Left: A clock tower that overlooks Connecticut Avenue is one of the most prominent features of the new student center at UDC.

When Michael Marshall was as an architecture student at the University of the District of Columbia in 1975, the school was still under construction. Now as a graduate, one of his greatest feats was being able to give back to his alma mater, he said.

“It’s great to be able to come back both professionally and personally to be a part of the legacy of this university,” Marshall said during a recent tour of the $63 million, 83,000 square foot student center, he designed and built, that sits on Connecticut Avenue and serves as what Marshall calls the new “gateway” to UDC.

The facility’s key design features include “green” construction materials, such as reclaimed wood and steel beams made from recycled metal, and a water treatment system that reduces the amount of water entering the city’s drainage system. A vegetated “green roof” helps reduce the heat emanating from the building and manages stormwater runoff. The three-story structure will house administrative offices, a student lounge, a ballroom, a fitness center, and offices for student government and student organizations.

“This building really is a symbol of where we want to be and what we want to represent in terms of our role with the District,” UDC president Ronald Mason Jr. said. “It’s state of the art. It’s attractive. It’s sustainable. And it’s in a location that gives us a face into the broader community.”

Marshall credits the “supportive” environment at UDC, where he earned an associate’s degree,  with giving him the foundation for a career in architecture. He later earned a bachelor’s in architecture from Catholic University, and a master’s degree in architecture from Yale University.

He said the ideal time to introduce students to architecture is around 10 or 11, “before they get wrapped up in sports, because sports can be a distraction.”

Marshall’s own interest in architecture began at age 11 when a childhood friend had to take some blueprints to his father, who was a carpenter. Once Marshall discovered what blueprints were, he thought about how much he liked to draw and concluded that he should be an architect.

His firm, Marshall Moya Design, has a diverse portfolio of projects that include redesigning the Howard Theater. He also has an upcoming project to design the new D.C. United Soccer Stadium.