A major renovation to the University Union will begin in May that will relocate a number of student-centered services to the building, as well as create a Marketplace dining and gathering area unlike any other on campus.
“We’ll be creating an arrival space,” said Brian Rose, vice president for student affairs. “The entrance will immediately provide a kind of way-finding area and welcoming space where people can sit and meet. We’re trying to develop the building as a real crossroads with lots of activity day and night, so students will spend more time there because they like the space.”
The Center for Civic Engagement will occupy the front corner of the first floor, which will be built out from the current entrance, and the Career Development Center will be located on both sides of the hall.
The prime location and higher visibility for the CDC for will send a better message to employers, students, alumni and parents, Rose said. “We want to give high priority to linking the outstanding education we provide to whatever comes next for our students, be that graduate school or career-track employment.”
The Marketplace, an “indoor town square” concept that will replace the Susquehanna Room and Food Court, will draw people together just as the Peace Quad does when warm weather hits. “It will provide opportunities for serendipitous encounters as well as planned gatherings” Rose said. “It will be a space that facilitates meeting and seeing people, an indoor, non-weather dependent, attractive space where there are services around it to get a sandwich or drink.
“We hope to create an indoor meeting place — a town square that attracts people to use it as a gathering space seven days a week, many hours of the day,” Rose added. “The Marketplace won’t just be a food court on steroids. We want there to be more than serving stations and tables and chairs, so we’ll be including some soft seating, a somewhat segregated space with a fireplace, and we’ll have different types of seating and spaces throughout the Marketplace. It won’t be a place where, if you’re not buying a shake, you can’t be there, but we also think we’ll be able to improve the variety of food and beverages we can offer by attracting more people to use the space.”
“Once the new Marketplace is complete at summer’s end 2013, the University Union will be a true destination spot on campus with a menu that will draw from an international range of foods,” said Peter Napolitano, director of auxiliary services. “Diners will be able to select from regional fare such as Mediterranean, Southwestern and Asian, as well as foods from the garden, the deli, a health juice bar and a Starbucks Café.
“Plus, we’ll have menus that vary on a seasonal basis: more hearty foods during the winter months and lighter foods in the warmer weather,” he said. “Menus will typically incorporate fresh seasonal products, and all of the food will be prepared in a more natural and healthy way because it will be prepared right there, with no need to transport it from another location.”
The Marketplace will include a small student coffeehouse stage and space to support that, Rose added, to allow for both spontaneous and programmed activities.“It’s these kinds of informal activities that add life to a campus and cause people to hang out there more.”
Rose said there will also be large TV screens, with the hope that they can be programmed wirelessly by students in the future. The infrastructure for additional media will be included in the renovation as well. “It will take a few years to build a culture that uses the Marketplace area well,” he said, “but if we include some useful features, we know students will figure out interesting ways to use them.”
Renovations to the second floor will create spaces for the TRIO and EOP administrative offices, a new tutoring center to serve both programs, as well as the Undergraduate Research Center, Rose said.
“We’ll be able to create a better tutorial center for our opportunity program students with more stations, more space and more technology by not having to support multiple smaller, locations across campus,” Rose said.
With the next phase of the Union renovation scheduled to begin this summer, the University and Sodexo are also working on dining options for when the Susquehanna Room and Food Court close in June or July 2012. The two eating areas will remain closed until fall 2013, when the Union renovation is complete and the east and west sides of the Union are linked.
Here is a schedule of openings, closings and proposed alternatives for food service:
• The Susquehanna Room and the Food Court will remain open until sometime in June or July 2012.
• The John Arthur Café will open Aug. 27, 2012, offering freshly prepared deli-style sandwiches, soups and desserts.
• The Chenango Room and the newly constructed Einstein Bros Bagels will open Aug. 27, 2012 with hours extending into the evening.
• The old M&T Bank location in the University Union’s Tillman Lobby will open Aug. 20, 2012, with a grab-and-go concept.
• The C4 Dining Center will serve EOP, Upward Bound and athletics camps beginning July 2, 2012.
• All resident dining halls will accommodate faculty and staff using a commuter plan or BUC$ card at rates comparable to what they would have paid in the Susquehanna Room beginning in fall 2012.
• There will be expanded hours at the Hinman Café (opening at 11 a.m.) and CIW Woods Diner (opening at 5 p.m.) beginning in fall 2012.
Initially, CIW Dining Hall will remain open during summer 2012, where faculty and staff can eat at prices comparable to the Susquehanna Room. As noted above, when the fall semester begins, faculty and staff will have the same dining opportunities at all campus dining halls.
The Jazzman’s kiosks in the Library Tower and in Academic B will continue to provide service as they currently do.
Rose summed it up this way: “We’re excited to think about the new spaces the Union renovation will bring to campus. As with any renovation project, the construction phase brings some temporary challenges, in this case with food services. We’re confident we have reasonable solutions in place and we’re even more confident that the entire campus will be excited to use and experience the new spaces once they open.”