While students relaxed over the holiday break, between 75-125 workers on any given day were making big changes to the Downing University Center.
Dan Chaney, project manager of capital construction, said a large stair tower on the South Lawn side of the building is in place and being worked on, expected to be completed in the next few months.
Large amounts of concrete have been poured throughout the building, most visibly on the balconies that will provide outdoor seating at the renovated Fresh Food Company area.
The spiral staircase familiar to any but the newest of WKU students no longer exists. Its removal allows the roof of the space to be opened up for a skylight from above, Chaney said. Parts of the roof will be removed in the coming weeks, he said.
The new home of the WKU Store, the ground floor of DUC, is having its entrance built and walls framed.
Offices for the Career Services Center, the Student Government Association, Campus Activities Board and a student lounge will occupy much of the second floor in the old bookstore's location.
Steel studs are in place throughout the building, outlining the size of the rooms.
"If you had a set of plans you could look and say 'Hey, that's going to be the Career Services Center, that's going to be SGA offices,'" Russell said. "A lot of times, people can't see the size of a space until the walls are up. Now that we've got steel studs up, you can get a better feel of the space."
Chaney said the most difficult part of the entire project so far is doing construction work in a partially occupied building.
"It's a challenge," Chaney said. "People working in the building still have to have air conditioning, running water, lights. So keeping those systems operational is a challenge."
Much of the metal and materials being ripped out of the building are being recycled.
"About 93 percent of our waste is being recycled," Chaney said. "We are proud of that."
The new DUC will be a LEED certified building, promoting environmentally friendly construction and design.
Overall, the Avenue of Champions side of DUC is on schedule to be completed by the fall of this year, but progress on the new central staircase has been slightly delayed, Chaney said.
Bryan Russell, director of planning, design, and construction, said large post-tension concrete beams needed to be cut in order to make room for the central staircase.
While the central staircase will be near completion by the beginning of the fall semester, it will take an additional few months to finish once school starts, Chaney said.
Students can expect to see the very visible South Lawn stair tower nearing completion in the coming months, as well as masonry work to begin on the outside of the building, bringing the building slowly closer to concept renderings of the renovated DUC