DUC renovations unveiled

Natalie Broderick, Student Affairs Chairperson at with the Student Government Association, explains the proposed remodeling plans for Downing University Center. Planned additions include a Starbucks, 24-hour study space, elevators and renovated dining areas.

More than 40 years after the Downing University Center opened, $49 million in renovations on the building are ready to go.

Plans for the center were first revealed during the student affairs committee meeting at the Board of Regents meeting on Friday. Architects Jeff Stivers and John Burse, who gave the presentation, said the renovations are based on the principles of “spirit and social heart.”

Following the Board of Regents meeting, the Student Government Association revealed the plans to students with a display in DUC. Renovations will begin during the summer of 2012 and are scheduled for completion in the fall of 2014.

At the SGA’s release, images of the proposed renovations were displayed, a video played continually on the main floor televisions, and SGA members handed out “feature” sheets listing key changes.

A few of these changes include a 24-hour study space, a Starbucks and renovated WKU Store. SGA is also working to get an Apple store with Mac Support, although this has yet to be finalized.

“Of the renovation list, I am most excited about the 24-hour study room,” SGA President Billy Stephens said.

The study area will give students another place to study other than the library and Mass Media and Technology Hall.

Students may experience some inconveniences over the next few years, as many offices will no longer be centrally located in DUC, Stephens said. Some will move to different areas of campus to accommodate the construction.

Facilities will begin to be relocated as soon as the end of the spring semester, including Fresh Foods, which will be relocated to Garrett Conference Center during the renovations.

Stephens said the SGA has worked to incorporate the features WKU students want to see, especially since students will be paying for it.

A $70-per-semester fee to pay for the project went into effect this semester after being approved by the Board of Regents in June.

Students traveled to various universities around the nation to visit student centers and compile ideas. Several SGA members work on the renovation committee to ensure that student needs and concerns are met.

“I felt since that was the first time the plans were made available to the board, then students should know then as well,” Stevens said. “I wanted to make students aware as soon as possible since a student fee is being paid for the renovations.”

Over the years, DUC has suffered a series of infrastructure problems, Stephens said. The renovations will seek to rectify these, and increase its utility for students. The DUC Renovation Steering Committee — which consists of architects, administrators and students — developed the main features after compiling student input last school year.

Ross Tarrant Architects will complete designs in the early spring, and the building will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified. The bidding process for a contractor has begun.

Stivers, an architect with Ross Tarrant Architects, said the designers have tried to incorporate what is important to students in every aspect of the design.

“It has been a thrilling project to work on from start to finish,” he said.

Burse, an architect with Mackey Mitchell Architects, said everyone is very excited about the project.

“It represents a very dynamic transformation,” he said. “It should bring a lot of connections to this campus.”

John Osborne, vice president for Campus Services and Facilities, said he guarantees the new center will “wow” students. It is scheduled to open in fall 2014, with construction beginning summer 2012.