Binghamton University will close parts of the Old and New University Unions from summer 2012 until spring 2014 while they undergo major renovation.
The parts of the Unions that will be renovated include the former Kosher Kitchen, the Susquehanna Room and the Food Court. The construction in the Old and New Unions are being treated as separate projects with different budgets, goals and timetables.
The renovation of the north portion of the University Union is slated to begin in fall 2012 and will be completed in spring 2014. The budget for this project is about $9 million and is funded by the Capital Plan, which is the money that the state allocates to SUNY for critical maintenance projects.
The second project involves the renovation and expansion of the food services area, which includes the Susquehanna Room and Food Court.
Karen Fennie, spokeswoman for Physical Facilities, said that the idea behind this project is to merge these two areas and create an open, market-place type space with a variety of food options available to students. She said about 5,500 square feet of space will be added.
The food services area project is anticipated to begin in summer 2012 and will be completed in fall 2013. It has an estimated budget of about $7.5 million, according to Fennie.
She said Physical Facilities will remove the asbestos that is currently present throughout the north portion of the Old Union. They will also replace the roof, provide new heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems, lighting, power distribution and fire alarm systems.
Fennie added that the renovated space will house key student services, including the Career Development Center, the Center for Civic Engagement, the Tutoring Center, the Education Opportunity Program and TRiO. She said that the timing of the renovation is critical, as serious maintenance needs to be performed to the buildings’ electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation and air condition systems.
Prior to the reconstruction of the south part of the building a few years ago, the Old Union has remained mostly the same as it was when it was constructed in the 1950s.
“As the campus changes and programs change, appropriate space must be created to accommodate those changes,” Fennie said.
James Koval, manager of the University Union, said that plans are not completely finalized yet. The unofficial design includes spreading kiosks through the Susquehanna Room and Food Court, connecting the rooms and adding booths for students to dine or hang out.
He said that renovation of the Old Union had stopped before this area was completed because there was originally not enough money for the project. According to Fennie, Sodexo is paying for the new renovations to the Food Court area.
“[We must] acknowledge that it is a small food court looking at the population on campus,” said Robert Griffin, district marketing manager of Sodexo.
Griffin explained that the small size of the Food Court results in overcrowding and said that a more open food court would make the food services section of the Unions more accessible for student use.
Paul Kerns, district manager for Sodexo campus services, proposed new food station ideas based on student input. The ideas included a salad bar, a bakery or café, a deli, a Texmex concept, a pizza and pasta station and an entrée station.
“It is still very conceptual. Nothing is set in stone by any means,” Griffin said. “There is a lot of room for adjustment.”
A main concern, according to Koval, has been where students will go for food during the construction. This problem has not yet been fully resolved.