This article uses archival research to illustrate how the Association of College Unions and the professional consultants it supported employed the metaphors of “home,” the “art of living,” and “laboratory for living” to organize architectural meaning, social spaces, and student activities in the design of student unions on campuses across North America in the period following World War II. These metaphors facilitated the spread of expert knowledge as well as the making of a new building type. This move toward standardization reflected the long-standing egalitarian character of student unions and the growing presence of the middle class in American universities during the mid-twentieth century. The standardized student union physically embodied the American middle-class “standard of living” and promoted ideal middle-class values through its presence on college campuses.

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