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Student activity center delayed by economy

FREEZE: An artist's rendering of the proposed Student Activity Center. Due to the credit crisis, construction on the building will be halted one year.

Lakeside Haven: Construction on the new student activity center, which was delayed by the economy, might begin by the end of next May as the spring semester ends. Above is an artist rendering from Arquitectonica of the three-story building. Courtesy Daniel Westbrook.

The Rathskeller was set to close in order to allow for construction on a three-story student activity center.

But with the struggling economy, plans were put on hold.

“Originally we had planned that by this point in summer we would be in the initial early stage of construction, but because of the change in the economy that has affected everyone, including the University of Miami, the financial stuff delayed construction,” Director of the University Center Dan Westbrook said.

Despite this, the addition to campus could be available to this year’s incoming freshmen.

“Our best-case scenario is that if everything would fall into line, we could be looking at May 2010 as the beginning of the actual closedown of the Rathskeller and startup of construction of the new facility,” Westbrook said. “That would put us in a soft opening in the summer of 2012 and a grand opening for the fall semester of 2012.”

According to Westbrook, the delay might even have its benefits.

“One of the things that’s kind of an optimistic way to look at things is that we’ve been working with construction companies and they’ve given us their opinion that the construction costs of the building are actually going to go down because companies out there are looking for business,” he said.

For those worried about getting to classes on time, there’s no need to fear. Plans have already been made to direct foot traffic in the area near the Rat. Ideally, main construction will take place during the summer when there are fewer people on campus.

Construction of the activity center is actually phase one of two that will take place. Phase two consists of upgrading the already existing university center after the new one is built. They will act as complements to each other.

One of the main focuses is to achieve LEED Certification so that the building is deemed “green.”

When the Rat does close down, it will temporarily move to where Sbarro’s is located in the University Center.

Westbrook said that because of the change in kitchen, there will be tweaks to the menu. There is also talk of blocking off part of the UC patio so that some of the swinging tables are reserved for customers of the Rathskeller.

“I’ll definitely miss the fun atmosphere that comes with the Rat once they start construction,” junior Jessica Eberbach said.

Those from the Class of 2013, however, are excited to see the finished result.

“I read about the plans for the new student activity center and I think it’s great that the university is finally going to build a structure to accommodate all the student activities and clubs that exist at UM,” incoming freshman Savanna Stiff said.

Even for alumni, the student activity center will serve as another reason to come back and visit.

“I am very excited about being able to come back to see this incredible new student activities center when it is complete,” recent graduate and last year’s Student Government President Brandon Gross said.

BREAKING IT DOWN

Ground floor

Three retail establishments and the Rathskeller

Fresh market store, Jamba Juice and Starbucks

2nd floor

The heart of the new facility and student activities

Desks, workspaces and a new media center

3rd floor

Meeting rooms

New meeting, conference and grand ballrooms

-Christina De Nicola

August 3, 2009

Reporters

Christina De Nicola

Editor In Chief


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