The view of Lake Osceola from the second floor of the University Center (UC) is about to become a little less cluttered. The second of three sections of the patio renovations are set to open within the next week.
“We’re about to … expand a little bit closer towards the lake,” said Dan Westbrook, director of the UC. “That’ll give us an opportunity to … have some open patio for folks that maybe don’t want go to the Rathskeller but still would like to enjoy the outside patio environment.”
The idea behind the patio renovation was to improve the visibility of the lake from all angles of the UC patio, Westbrook said.
“The former stage was elevated,” Westbrook said. “It was located centered at the far end and effectively that meant that anyone sitting on the patio couldn’t really see the water of the lake. It sort of blocked the view.”
According to Westbrook, they settled on these renovations and planned to move the stage to the side of the patio to achieve an almost unrestricted view of the lake.
“We thought, ‘Why not terrace the patio down … so that anyone seated on the patio or anyone seated watching a performance could have a view of the beautiful lake?’” he said.
The new patio space had to account for the storage of pool equipment, Westbrook said. The elevation of the area above the storage space made a natural location for the new stage area.
“With the stage … on top of the swimming pool filtration equipment and the terraced down audience area, we’re going to get the best of all possible worlds,” he said. “… We’ll have a spectacular place for events.”
The final third of the patio is set to open in the early part of the summer.
“That will be the part that has the stage and the terrace seating that leads down to create the amphitheater-like setting,” Westbrook said. “… That will be ready for August when we start into the fall semester.”
According to Student Government President Nawara Alawa, the hope is to have both the patio and Student Activities Center (SAC) built by June in order to test out the new area before the start of the fall semester.
“There are a lot of amenities that students will have between the new building and the patio that they haven’t had or they’ve had to work around this year,” Alawa said. “They want to test everything throughout June and July.”
There will also be a new addition to the patio space, Alawa said.
“It will no longer be the Rat patio … It will be Lime’s patio,” she said.
Lime Fresh Mexican Grill is a casual-dining Mexican restaurant that will take the Rat’s place once the popular campus staple is moved to the SAC.
Alawa said she is excited for the patio to be complete.
“The biggest thing that everyone’s looking forward to with finishing the patio … is being able to walk around the lake again,” Alawa said. “That was a huge thing my freshman and sophomore year – being able to walk around the lake at night.”
Westbrook is also very excited. The key is the fact that all of this comes together as one big project, he said.
“This is all one cohesive, comprehensive, complementary vision for bringing a completely new level of student life to the campus,” Westbrook said.