Santa Clara University

Benson Memorial Center

About Benson

Robert F. Benson Memorial Center, which opened in 1963, is a critical asset of Santa Clara University. It provides not only the services required by students; it also brings to life the co-curricular and extra-curricular activities of students, faculty, staff, administration, alumni and guests of the University.


Benson Memorial Center was originally built in the University expansion that took place in the early 1960’s when women were admitted for the first time. At one time, the building housed sixteen billiard tables, a locker room, eight bowling lanes, the Red Lounge (completed with a fireplace), and a hair salon. The first significant modification occurred from 1983-85 with a $5.5 million construction/renovation project which included building Shapell Lounge, the Campus Bookstore, and the ASSCU complex (all in a space that once was a parking lot directly off of the Alameda), a convenience store called Down Under, Brass Rail, and Television Lounge), reorganization of the second floor office space and a make-over of the student cafeteria. These changes reflected the ever-changing needs of students and captured how they were spending their time, at work and at play. In the summer of 1995 the food service venues enjoyed a $2 million renovations at the residential board plan changed from a cafeteria style to all retail. The student cafeteria became Market Square with a collection of "restaurants." Mission Bakery was created at this time as well.

Outside the scope of food service changes, the University began to address the need for building community and thus created an outdoor gathering location as the Donohoe Fountain and the Alumni Terrace (formerly known as the Quad) were built. Beyond the two major renovation phases of the mid 1980’s and 1990’s smaller projects, but no less important, happened. In the winter of 1999, an interior design firm was hired to create a color palate so that decisions of color would be incorporated. Soon to follow was the addition of the Multicultural Center to Shapell Lounge and the redesign of the basement student offices. Significant to indoor events was the flooding of the Brass Rail as El Nino caused the ground water to swell. For fifteen months, the primary student-programming venue was closed. In the summer of 2000, a general face lift to the entire building began that included changing floor tiles, wall treatments, lighting changes and the reshaping of the ASSCU complex. This work was all done with the core value, community building, as the central guiding principle. Today, Benson Memorial Center is a comprehensive campus center. Future plans include the renovation of California Fresh, now known as The Bronco.


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