The University released some details on the Union renovation project that will begin construction this summer.
The Food Court and Susquehanna Room will close as construction begins on a new Marketplace that will offer new food concepts and seating for 800. A related project will consolidate several campus offices and student services into the north part of the Old University Union.
The food services project is expected to cost about $8 million, and the rest of the renovations will cost about $11.8 million, according to Karen Fennie, spokeswoman for Physical Facilities.
Terry Webb, assistant vice president for student life, said the goal is to open the space up and connect the different parts of the New and Old Unions.
“We’re going to try to have things on one level,” Webb said. “You can go in and walk straight through. It will connect the Old Union with the New Union. It will be a lot easier to navigate and get around.”
According to Peter Napolitano, director of auxiliary services, there will be several new food concepts.
There will be a Red Mango juice bar offering healthy fruit smoothies, drinks and more. A Pandini’s will replace Sbarro and Taco Bell, offering items like pizzas, pastas and stromboli. Mein Bowl will be expanded and where Salad Toss, Sub Connection and the Jazzman’s Coffee station are located, a convenience store will be built in their place offering “much more variety,” according to Napolitano. To the left of where the cash registers are, Café Spice, a chain concept, will be installed, offering Indian-style dishes such as curries.
In the current dining area, a deli station, grill and diner food concept will be installed along the right wall. There will be a diner counter and seating where students will be able to get “quick food, convenient food, comfort food,” according to Napolitano.
The old and new sections of the Union will be connected by a serpentine walkway, winding its way through new seating areas, a new fireplace feature and a space for a student stage. According to Napolitano, the current connections in the Unions “will be affected during construction but will be much better when finished.”
Napolitano said they want the Marketplace to be a meeting place and social gathering spot.
“We’re gonna have food, but we want to create a space for students to hang out,” Napolitano said. “It’s gonna be a destination spot, that’s what we want.”
Where there is currently an outdoor courtyard near the Susquehanna Room entrance, there will be an enclosed atrium with similar architecture to that of the Chenango Room. Napolitano said they want it to be a coffee café.
In the Susquehanna Room, the deli will be replaced with private dining rooms. The plans are to add an international food station and a salad station. Napolitano said they are also talking with Moe’s to include a station in the far left corner of the Susquehanna Room.
To ensure that students remain well-caffeinated while Jazzman’s is closed, the campus bookstore will sell brewed Starbucks coffee during the course of the renovations.
Several offices, including Off Campus College Transport’s, will be relocated during the construction on the Old Union.
The Career Development Center (CDC), the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), TRiO, Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), the Undergraduate Research Center, and a new tutoring center to serve both TRiO and EOP, will be relocated and included in the second-floor renovations in the Old Union.
“[The CDC] will be easier for employers to get to and will be more visible to students,” Webb said. “Same for the CCE, it will be more visible. This takes it out of an area that isn’t student-friendly and puts it into an area that is student-friendly.”
Webb said he believes all of the renovations are what students want.
“Students who use these services, who use the Union a lot, this will make it easy for them,” Webb said.
BU students, however, have expressed mixed feelings about the new renovations coming to the Unions. Patrick Purcell, a junior majoring in history, dislikes the construction on campus.
“I understand the desire to renovate, but it’s just annoying because I’m only spending two years at Bing and both years there will have been tons of construction,” Purcell said. “Also, maybe they could take the money they put toward the renovation and keep cost of tuition down?”
Amanda Rittmeier, a junior majoring in biology, said she also is “not a big fan”of the renovations.
”I just feel like it’s gonna suck for off-campus students because most of them eat there,” Rittmeier said. “And also for tabling. Also it’s gonna be super crowded at all the other locations.”
However, Keith Hogan, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, said he is looking forward to the finished product.
”I like the idea of making ‘The Marketplace’ the heart of campus,” Hogan said. “Overall I am excited to see how the changes the University has laid out on paper translate onto this project.”
The New Union is expected to be fully operational again in fall 2013 and the Old Union is slated to open in spring 2014.
Napolitano said he is looking forward to the project’s completion.
“When it’s done, it’ll be phenomenal,” Napolitano said. “One of the premier college student unions in the country. A flagship. We’re really excited about this one, it’s gonna be great.”