Honors College and International Center construction continues

Construction continues on the new, three-story Honors College building. The building will house Honors College faculty and staff as well as KIIS, Study Abroad and Global Learning and the Office of Scholar Development. Jake Pope/HERALD

Lashana Harney

Although Downing Student Union’s renovation is wrapping up, another building on campus is still in the process of being erected.

Construction is underway for the $22 million, three-story Honors College and International Center. 

The money for the project was borrowed by the university through an agency bond.

A&K Construction, from Paducah, is contracted for the project. The company had previously worked on other construction projects on campus such as Topper Café and Gary Ransdell Hall.

Kerra Ogden, project manager of Capital Construction, said the university started talking about the project in 2007. The design phase started two years ago and construction began in January. 

Much progress has been made since then.

“We already started going vertical, so it won’t be long before the building starts to shape,” she said. 

Ogden said there have been no construction delays.

Bryan Russell, chief facilities officer, said the lot where the building is being constructed was once home to the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house, Chi Omega sorority house and Hillcrest apartments. 

One-third of the building will be dedicated to housing the Honors College faculty and staff. The building will also be the home for the Kentucky Institute for International Studies, Study Abroad and Global Learning and the Office of Scholar Development.

The Honors College has grown from a couple hundred students to around 1,300 students since 2005. Craig Cobane, executive director of the Honors College, said the Honors College doesn’t have any dedicated classrooms and Honors faculty remain in separate buildings across campus.

“I have people trying to report to me from five different places. It’s really hard for a unit to function that way,” he said.

A new food venue will also arrive with the new building. The venue will provide a wider range of vegan and vegetarian options as well as international food options.

“When you talk about culture, one of the key elements you need to understand is the food,” Cobane said. “There is going to be a cooler for international soda and there will also be international candy.”

There will be many unique features of the building, including a circle of international flags in front of the building, a 5-foot transparent globe that will be in the center of the lobby and an outdoor classroom. 

“We have really tried hard through design and through branding to make international students feel like that we put a little piece of their home into this building…” Ogden said. 

The project is expected to be complete in July 2015 and ready for use next fall.

 “This is the university’s building. It’s for all students,” said Cobane. “This is meant to be the gateway to the world. Whether that is the world coming to us or us going to the world.”