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William Johnston Building

Florida State University – College of Fine Arts

William Johnston Exterior

William Johnston Exterior

The William Johnston Building is home to the Departments of Interior Architecture + Design, Art Education, Art History and the School of Art & Design’s library and gallery. It holds classrooms, studios, critique spaces and computer labs, most available with 24/7 swipe access for majors.

The east-facing original section of the building, which contains the Suwannee Dining Hall, was built in 1913. The west-facing, newly renovated section opened in 1939. The entire Johnston Building was known as the Dining Hall for roughly 60 years because it housed a bakery, a creamery, a cannery, an informal dining hall, two formal dining halls and a private dining area for the university president. In the 1980s, the building was named for Florida State benefactor William H. Johnston, a hotelier from Jacksonville, Fla.

During the recent renovation of the 1939 section, great care was taken to preserve many of the building’s historical interior finishes, including the salt-glazed tile wainscot in the foyer of the first-floor lobby and on the second floor between the two formal dining halls, which are now lecture halls; wood ceiling beams and hand-painted cork ceiling tiles that depict sparrows, butterflies, herons and waves; and the cast-stone sculpture of Demeter, the Greek goddess of plenty, which is above the west-front doors.

The architects of Gould Evans Associates and a consultant from H2 Engineering designed the Johnston Building to conform to the standards of the Architecture 2030 Challenge, an initiative by the global architecture and building community to build “carbon neutral” buildings that strive to emit zero greenhouse gases in their operation.

The renovation marries a traditional collegiate Gothic exterior with an ultramodern interior, which includes a dramatic five-story atrium. With 143,000 square feet, it houses portions of the Division of Undergraduate Studies and the colleges of Communication and Information; Human Sciences; and Fine Arts.

Following this historic renovation and an expansive new addition, the William Johnston Building at Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee, Fla., has earned LEED® Gold certification.