The university is moving to the next phase of development for the new Student Activities Center, said the vice president of Student Affairs.
Patricia A Whitely said the $80-million construction project will take about four years to complete, with construction beginning in January 2009.
Whitely, who met with the board of trustees Tuesday morning, said the project will be broken down into two phases: the construction of the new, currently unnamed center and he complete refurbishment of the current UC, which has not been renovated since 1965.
Dan Westbrook, director of the University Center, said the new Student Activities Center needs to be built because “[the UC] doesn’t meet the needs of students.”
The SAC is planned to be constructed where the Rathskellar currently stands. The Rat will be relocated closer to the Frost School of Music and will feature a bigger, “more efficient” kitchen, more outdoor seating and continued walk-up service, Westbrook said.
The Rat will move to a temporary location during construction. Officials had previously said the Rat’s liquor license would be transfered to Sbarros, but are still speaking with legal persons.
“I hope the new Rat will still provide alcohol,” Jorge Delgado, a 23-year-old sophomore, said. “Some people have a tradition to go to the Rat every Friday and drink together. It provides a fellowship.”
The university is planning features for the Student Activities Center based on surveys filled out by students. More than 10,000 square feet are planned for student organizations, a banner-making center, media center, outdoor corner terrace and five meeting rooms.
The plan also allots a room for functions that will seat 800 people so “students will no longer have to go off campus for major events,” Whitely said.
Three retail spaces are also going to be included, and students will have the opportunity to decide the types of stores.
“What we think it’s going to be is mostly food and restaurant outlets, but we’ve also heard conversations about hair and nail salons, or a computer-repair station or something with iPods,” Westbrook said. “We’re still not sure because it’s a couple years away.”
Michael Casciato, a junior who spends about three to four hours a week in the UC as an instructor for Salsa Craze, said he would like to see a dance floor in the new student center.
“Something with a hard floor would be great, but other than that I’m happy with the way everything is,” he said.
The UC Patio will also be renovated to include more shade from trees, umbrellas, awnings and canopies, because “it can be really hot,” Westbrook said. The stage near the lake will be moved to the loading dock, and long stairs will be built to create an amphitheatre effect.
Westbrook said the administration is very excited about this new project to get underway, and added “our students deserve better, [and] this will be the step to really surpass other universities.”
Anthony Minerva may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
UC/Rathskellar Quick Facts
Construction begins in 2009
Construction ends in 2012
Two phases of construction: first, new Student Activities Center; second, renovation of UC
Will include a renovated food court, law and graduate school student offices
Rat will temporarily move; beer/wine will still be available at an alternate location