University Center renovations on track

University Center renovations on track

Sophie Hillmeyer

Renovations to the University Center (UC) are on track, with the first phase of the two-phase project scheduled to be completed by mid-April.

Phase one included a renovation to the south wing, gutting the first and second floors and an addition to the east wing of the building and the exterior framing should be completed this week, Director of Facilities and Campus Planning Jim Thams said. Renovations include the addition of large ballrooms with 16-foot ceilings, able to accommodate 1,300 people standing or seat 900 people at round tables, he added. Events are already scheduled to take place in these new facilities.

“I am incredibly excited about where we are [with the renovations],” Thams said. “The place is going to look dynamite.”

A current and visible change to the facility is the glass along the front of the building, which will be an area with balconies and open-seating similar to the seating areas in Jamrich, Thams said.

At the end of February, the Great Lakes rooms will be closed and construction will begin for the restrooms and coatrooms for the new ballroom facilities, Thams said, noting that Simply Superior stopped taking reservations for that period of time to accommodate for the changes. The new restrooms will be located where the current Skylight Lounge is now, completing phase one. Those renovated areas will then be turned over to the university.

Phase two is scheduled to begin after April 15, when the bookstore and the Peter White Lounge will be turned over to contractors, Thams said. Phase two is scheduled for completion by Aug. 25, one week after fall 2019 classes begin, and at that time, the facility will be open and functional. After interior renovations conclude, changes to the parking lot and landscaping will take place. Those are scheduled to be completed by Homecoming weekend, Sept. 20.

As comes with any major renovation project, there have been challenges and delays including issues with the severe weather conditions within the past few weeks, Thams said.

“Every day there are 65 guys working on-site and there is stuff happening everywhere,” Thams said. “There are a lot of unknowns, but that’s the nature of construction, especially renovations. We are always working through issues.”

Even with unexpected challenges, the project has been able to stay on track and stay within budget so far, Thams said.

“It’s going to be an awesome asset when we’re done,” he said.