Paul Knell


Paul Knell says he can’t walk past a Starbucks without stopping in. It’s not just his love of a tall Grande Pike that intrigues him. The man can’t help but study the human dynamics of line movement, the strategic placement of merchandise and food, and the unique social interaction that is a hallmark of every franchise.

It’s no wonder he has become a nationally recognized designer of Student Unions and a big reason why WTW is the go-to firm for colleges and universities around the nation. He has a voracious appetite for new ideas and is constantly refining the Student Union experience because as he puts it, “Everyone’s name is on the front door.”

He has been commissioned for more than 110 Student Unions in his 36-year career at WTW. The one he designed for DePaul University was used often by one of his daughters while she was a student there (thankfully she gave him high grades for it.) He is also the author of the book: College Union Dynamic –Flexible Solutions for Successful Facilities, where he outlines his 9 tenets of Union Best Trends & Practices, including Micro Restaurants, IT Pods, Affinity & Identity Spaces, Outdoor Programming and more. For the others, you will have to get the book.

“The Student Union has undergone a major transformation over the past 20 years or so. Once thought of as an “out of the classroom experience,” it is now an integral part of a university’s learning and living environment. Every facet has to be considered to meet a student’s need for technology, interaction, education, and of course, coffee and snacks!”


Other interesting things you might want to know about Paul:

AIA College of Fellows

Member the Association of College Unions International (ACUI)

Carnegie Mellon University grad with Honors

Enjoys fly-fishing, travel, history and looking forward to his next great project.