Navigating Talley Student Union: A Surprisingly Easy Experience

Talley Student Union is the heart of student life at NC State, and it is the space I choose to analyze. Talley is separated into different areas each with different functions. Most of Talley Student Union is used either for conference rooms and event spaces or offices and businesses.

The first floor of the building is mostly used for “behind the scenes” functions like a loading dock, kitchens, storage areas, but does host the lower floor of Wolfpack Outfitters and Starbucks. The second floor is all about consumer-facing businesses and offices and includes most of the dining options in Talley along with the main floor of Wolfpack Outfitters, Arts NC State, Campus Visits office, PNC Bank, Wolfpack One Card office, passport services, and Wolf Xpress. The third floor primarily hosts conference and event spaces including the State Ballroom and Stewart Theatre.

The fourth floor begins the transition to student life offices and study spaces including Student Leadership and Engagement offices, Student Government, University Activities Board, Multicultural Student Affairs, Campus Visits, and many study spots. The fifth and final floor features administrative offices like Campus Enterprises, Rave! Catering, Student Center Administration, student life centers such as the GLBT Center and the Women’s Center, and more study spots. The floor and building organization philosophy is key to an effective student union. In the case of Talley, the consumer-facing businesses on the lower floors and the student-facing offices, community centers, and study spaces on the upper floors was a good layout choice that makes sense. 

Finding your way around Talley Student Union, especially for new students, can be difficult, but NC State has implemented a standard branding template for signage around the building. Compared to other buildings on campus, especially some of the older academic buildings, Talley has good usage of signage. All around Talley there are information displays that show the respective floor’s layout and map. These displays are static and not interactive, which would be much more useful for visitors.

Additionally, there are many wayfinding signs that all feature the same design style. The implementation of NC State’s brand is clear, Wolfpack Red, along with some secondary colors, are used on many walls, furniture, and signage. The typography used on the signs is the University standard – Univers. Also seen around the building are television screens used to display upcoming event advertisements, informational graphics, and University notices.



The furniture seems to be standardized around Talley, especially in the study spaces. The furniture on the second floor is more relaxed with comfortable couches and chairs, especially in the main lobby and the One Earth Lounge, while the study spaces feature your standard tables and chairs for doing work. There are many power outlets available in Talley, some tables have built in outlets while others have power strips in a tower-like design nearby. The standardized signage makes Talley easier to navigate than some other buildings on campus. The coordination of the furniture, wall colors, and other decorations and theming throughout the building create a visually cohesive environment.

Overall, Talley Student Union is a relatively simple building to navigate compared to other buildings on campus. The design standards from the wayfinding signage to paint colors and furniture selections create an environment that is unified and feels very NC State. 

Discussion — One Response

  • Eliya Sider 04/05/2022 on 6:12 PM

    Hi Harrison,

    I’m so glad you decided to analyze the atmosphere in Talley. Talley is personally my favorite place on campus for many reasons but mainly because it makes me feel good. I am the type of person who can’t do work or focus at all if I’m in an environment that I am not enjoying. I think the main thing about Talley I like best, that I wish you would have analyzed, is the lighting. I think it’s the most open and well-lit area on campus. One whole side of the building is completely windows which makes it seem so open. This is key for any study space, because if a person feels entrapped and closed off it may be draining mentally. I wish you would’ve discussed this because I think it contributes a lot to the atmosphere of Talley. However, I really enjoyed your point that Talley is the heart of NCSU. It really does have something to offer for everyone, which is unlike anywhere else on campus I believe. It’s interesting to note how as you go higher in the building the quieter. I think this was intentional of the design to make the top floors more study-based and thus a quieter space. The more single seating options also hint at this intention. Further, I would like to point out that the main flaw in Talley is the lack of seating for the population of NCSU students. Many times I have gone to Talley and spent more than 15 minutes just trying to find a place to sit. This is frustrating as it is my favorite place to study. I understand that the space may not fit endless seating options but I believe a lot more can be fit in if the design was aiming for maximum seating options. Also, a system that shows available seating around Talley would be a very beneficial addition. Overall, I believe this was a good analysis of Talley and I wonder if you agree with the points I’ve made?

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