EMU's new Student Center opens Nov. 6, as hub for student-focused services, events and activities
YPSILANTI — Eastern Michigan University’s new Student Center, the latest architectural gem on EMU’s main campus, opens its doors Monday, Nov. 6.
The Student Center will serve as the new hub for student services and organizations, while offering numerous amenities ranging from a bookstore and food court to a 24-hour computer lab and conference/banquet facilities. Grand-opening events begin with a ribbon-cutting Nov. 6, 11 a.m., and wrap up with a dedication ceremony Friday, Nov. 17 at 8 p.m.
The Student Center’s much-anticipated opening comes two years after University officials broke ground in Sept. 2004, and seven years after the project’s early planning and design stages, which involved substantial input from students who largely funded the $40.5-million project through fees.
“Students received a fantastic building for the cost,” said Jim Vick, EMU vice president for student affairs. “Our students deserve this building. It’s their new home away from home. The Student Center is more centrally located on campus. Its proximity to campus housing, the library, recreation center, classroom buildings and commuter parking make it far more convenient and accessible than McKenny Union, the building it replaces.”
“Every inch of the Student Center was carefully planned with students’ needs in mind,” said Daniel Cicchini, student government president and a senior from Berkley, Mich. “Students were included in the initial stages of selecting an architect and served on the committees that selected vendors. Our fireplace lounges, the wall of glass windows, the new bookstore and our food vendors were all requested by students.”
Far More Than “One-Stop Shopping”
A driving force behind the facility was the desire to create new synergies by bringing student-focused programs, services and amenities under one roof.
Among the programs in the Center are the University Information Center, the Admissions Welcome Center, Service EMU (for billing, financial aid and student records assistance), the Eagle Card Office, Student Judicial Services, International Student Services, Access Services, Commuter Central, the EMU Ticket Office, the Center for Multicultural Affairs, the Women’s Center and New Student Programs. The University and Student Center Art Galleries will showcase touring faculty and student exhibits.
“The Student Center will have a huge and positive impact on EMU student life, more than any other new building on campus in the past 30 years,” added Vick.
Amenities Inside the Student Center
“Students will be most excited about the new 24-hour computer lab—something that has been requested for quite some time—and the new bookstore,” said Cicchini. The new EMU Bookstore is managed by Follett Higher Education Group, which manages more than 740 college bookstores in North America. The EMU Computer Store is also located in the bookstore.
A phased-in schedule is in place for the Student Center’s food court vendors. Those slated to open Nov. 6 include Taco Bell Express, Sbarro, Freshens Smoothie Company, Subway, Sweet Success and the EMU Lobby Shop. KFC Express is expected to open the week of Nov. 13. Wendy’s and Panda Express are expected to open by early December 2006, followed by Starbucks Coffee Shop in winter 2007. Savage Gecko Gaming Theater will operate a high-tech game room at the Center and TCF Bank will feature full-service banking.
Students can enjoy the facility’s many comfortable seating areas—including two fireplace lounges—to study, socialize and relax between classes. Free wireless Internet access throughout the building is also available.
“Transparent” Architecture Showcases Students
Designed by Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann of Philadelphia, the visually stunning structure was built into the sloping landscape and features a three-story-high curving glass wall of windows overlooking the University Park ponds and Lake House. The windows provide panoramic views of the surrounding campus buildings and landscape.
“Our approach was very simple—create a ‘main street’ concept,” said architect Anton Germishuizen. “A student center should be a building that’s very transparent so you can see the activities, so students are showcased. In this building, that idea comes to life through its high
internal spaces as well as the transparency between floors. Students want to see other students and be seen.”
The most architecturally striking conference rooms include a fireplace boardroom, a half-round multicultural room and a kiva room with built-in seating. This room’s unique circular design was inspired by kivas, which are structures used by various Native American tribes for spiritual or ceremonial gatherings.
Built by Turner Construction Company of Detroit, the Student Center spans 181,000 square feet—nearly double the size of McKenny Union. The building features earth-friendly elements, including natural day lighting, a retention pond and an energy-saving lighting system. Turner also initiated an onsite construction waste management program to divert and recycle the waste that accumulated during construction.
“Turner is dedicated to building the future of Michigan,” said Turner’s project manager Bob Sanders. “This project will positively affect campus life at EMU for years to come.”
The former student union, McKenny Union, will be closed for approximately one year, so that rehabilitation and infrastructure improvements on the 1931 structure can begin later this year. It will reopen in fall 2007 and house University operations and offices.
Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.
Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.