BY DANA REESE
SC Editor in Chief
On Wednesday, February 13, Dr, John Robinson of Student Activities Association (SAA) presented a Design Development Update about the new Keystone Center construction plans to students and community members at ESU Summit in the University’s Student Senate Chambers.
“We are about two-quarters of the way through the design development stage,” said Robinson. “The plans will be submitted in a couple of months.”
Dr. Robinson believes the school will be working on selecting contractors for the project by the end of this year, but said that the actual construction would not start until probably mid-2014.
The plan outlined two phases of construction. The first phase is set to finish by January of 2016, while the second phase of construction is projected to finish by the summer of 2018.
The new building, which will take the places of both the University Center and the Keystone Room, and will as well house the library, is planned to be 265,000 square feet.
“Picture four times the size of Sci-Tech,” Dr. Robinson explained.
The cost, according to Dr. Robinson, is projected at upwards of $110 million.
“Approximately $70 million was approved by the state as part of capital improvement construction–approximately $30M will come from the student referendum vote–the remainder will come from Food Service and accumulated savings for the building project,” said Dr. Robinson.
The new building will house the normal activities of the current University Center, Keystone Room and Kemp Library upon completion of both phases. As well, the new building will house a potentially 24-hour computer lab and a new gaming room. The gaming room, meant to help relieve student stress on campus, will include computers and gaming systems relevant when the room is constructed.
Another new feature will be a 200 seat auditorium in phase one of the construction.
“Organizations will be able to utilize the space for functions,” explained Dr. Robinson.
Certain dining services normally in the cafeteria will also be moved into the new building, including Late Nite. Functions already within the university Center will remain in the new Keystone Room, including SAA and the student involvement centers, PSECU, the Book Store, the Campus Card Center and general meeting rooms.
A large multi-purpose room is also a part of the current construction plans to replace the space provided in the current Keystone Room.
“Once the Phase I construction is complete, the current functions and services in the current University Center will move into locations in that part of the building,” said Dr. Robinson. “Most will be in their permanent location, but some may be in temporary locations until all of the construction is complete.”
The library will remain in its current location until Phase II of construction is completed.
Students who voted in the referendum will remember the fee associated with the buildings to students. With the approval vote for the new Keystone Room, students also approved the student contribution to be funded by a slight raise in tuition.
This raise, of about $100 each semester, will begin when the student sections of the new building begin operations, or at the end of Phase I construction, approximately in January of 2016.
Right now the plans are not definite. Different teams are working through plans and funding sources, as well as the different ideas a contractor and future needs will bring into the plans.
“There is an executive design team that is made of various constituencies…along with student members who have been working with Facilities Management and the Architectural Firm in the design process,” said Robinson.
“There have been many outside meetings with different groups who will be housed in the building to get their feedback. These will continue throughout the construction process.”
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