So, after looking at what to do, I have come up with a design parti and want to start refining the final solution. Basically to add a student union downtown I believe there should be many layers of spaces and physical boundaries that not only make it secure, but also define from the surroundings so that public spaces and student spaces are separate. So the parti that I have came up with is to compare my building to a winter jacket. The metaphor that this building will surround the people with layers of insulation and keep them comfortable is much like how a winter jacket is warm and offers a much needed barrier from the cold.
Basically there are three new spaces that are added to the site. There is a parking garage to the southeast, a greenhouse to the south of the existing pioneer building, and a new extension to the north.
This site is a little unique in the fact that views are not all that important as there is nothing around the site that is really that appealing and the spaces withing the building do not really require there to be all that great of views. So, to accommodate many of the spaces and to add light I would like to make walls of masonry construction with sun shading screens so that west light isn't an issue, but have the entire roof tilted open so that light can pour into the building.
Next, there is the outdoor space that needs to be addressed. What I wanted to create here is an outdoor lawn for the downtown campus that would serve many different functions and hopefully have a lot of flexibility.
Last point that I wanted to point out is how this site is a "link" for downtown. I would want to have public travel ways inside my building that would go through the existing building and the parking garage. I also would link in Barry Hall and the Taco bell site which is most likely going to be more apartments. So using this building as a link will be convent and be more attractive to students and the public during the winter months (which seems to be 5 months out of the year in Fargo)
In conclusion the development of the design deals first with its context and then looks at the program to make decisions on where things will be placed. I think it is important to think of the public and not just NDSU, because the fact that this building might not always be in the possession of NDSU is very likely.