DUC renovations, construction projects continue over break

Kayla Swanson

While next week signals the end of the semester and the beginning of winter break for faculty and students, renovation of the Downing University Center will continue over the break.

The construction is still in Phase 1, with renovations happening on the Avenue of Champions side.

Construction won’t be completely finished until summer 2014, but project manager Dan Chaney said he has been impressed with the contractor so far.

“It’s not been without its challenges, but we’re proud of the progress,” Chaney said.

Bryan Russell — director of planning, design and construction — said the renovated DUC will be a key feature on campus.

“This is the social heart of WKU right here, and when it’s finished, it’s going to be a ‘wow’ factor,” Russell said. “You’re going to walk in, and you’re going to go, ‘Wow, this is really, really, really good.’”

Russell said DUC is being put back together, with exterior steel going up, groundwork being laid and new utilities going into the building.

In addition, Chaney said the floors of DUC have been renamed as ground, first, second and third to make navigation easier.

One feature of the ground floor is the WKU Store, which will have a new outside entrance, Chaney said.

“It will be great for football game days,” he said. “Fans can come right over, cross the street and go right into the store.”

Above the WKU Store will be the new Fresh Food Company. The layout will remain the same but will be redesigned and have new equipment and new food choices, Chaney said.

Balconies in front of Fresh Food Company are also going up, Russell said.

“You’ll be able to go outside and enjoy the view of the Avenue of Champions,” he said.

Construction on a new addition on the Centennial Mall side of DUC called “Night Class” will also begin over the break.

Russell said it will be a place for students to socialize.

“In the old days, it was a place for activities, like they would have bands and dancing and student activities,” Russell said.

The new DUC will also have a Starbucks in front of the auditorium, with a balcony for students to use, Chaney said.

The spiral staircases in the center of the first floor of DUC have been removed, and the floor above where they were will be cut out, Russell said.

“When you walk into the building, you’re going to see everybody from floors one through three,” he said.

Russell said one challenge during construction has been having people still working inside DUC. Other challenges that come up are requests for information.

“Most of it is about providing better information so that things can be located properly,” he said. “Any time you do renovation projects, there will be questions that come up.”

Several other construction projects will continue over break as well.

Russell said the biggest project is the renovation of the fourth floor of Cravens Library into a Commons Area that will be open when students return from break.

The HVAC system on the fifth floor of Grise Hall will be replaced over break, and construction on the Augenstein Alumni Center will continue as well.

While renovations of the new Office of Sustainability at 503 Regents Ave. won’t start over break, Sustainability Coordinator Christian Ryan-Downing said she is in the research phase of the project.

“I’ve just been meeting with contractors and trying to figure out the very best practices, what is the best installation to use, what are the best windows to get — that kind of thing,” Ryan-Downing said.

Ryan-Downing said she is also developing a budget for the project by looking at the different elements and how much they will cost.