As summer construction continues throughout the University of Wisconsin campus, the new Union South is preparing for the arrival of classes and winter snowfall.
According to Wisconsin Union spokesperson Marc Kennedy, construction of the building is currently on schedule for its April 15, 2011, public grand opening, after being delayed by winter snowfalls.
“We were worried about the snow. We were behind at one point by about 19 days,” Kennedy said. “But they made that up by the mid-point of the summer, and everything is looking good.”
Julie Grove, Facilities Planning and Management supervisor said construction over the summer focused on structure and roofing, while builders are currently working to enclose the building to make it waterproof in preparation for the winter.
“That’s a very big milestone for us to get the masonry and roofing complete,” Grove said. “Then we can turn our attention to the completion of the interior. So what you see from the outside is not all that’s going on.”
Grove added builders are working to have sidewalks around Union South open by the time classes begin.
The new Union South will provide space for a variety of events with a hall large enough to seat 900 for conferences, meetings, exhibits and even weddings. The space could also be divided into three smaller rooms for other purposes, Grove said.
Upon completion the building will also include outdoor space, with terraces on multiple levels complete with tables and chairs like those at Memorial Union, according to Grove.
“There’s a lot going on. It’s really a new kind of building for us, and we’re all really excited about it,” Grove said. “It’s really taking the Wisconsin identity into account.”
Keeping the environment in mind, over 80 percent of construction material including concrete, tables and chairs were recycled to be included in the new building, Shayna Hetzel, a Union spokesperson said.
Patrick Callan, the Wisconsin Union Directorate president visited the new building several times and stated an important feature of the new Union will be the added space for student activities and organizations. While some students admit they may not visit the Union often due to its distance from other campus buildings, Callan said the new Union would provide space for a theater, live performances and club events.
“I’m so excited to have a proper space to show movies in and not just the play circle,” Callan said. “But the whole building is just extremely exciting.”
Leading up to the grand opening, WUD is planning an event on the 15th of each month to excite students about the new building, Callan said.
According to Kennedy, the Union is also looking into creating a time capsule for Union South through student votes and suggestions, or a reality show to commemorate the opening of the building in the spring.
Kennedy added the Sept. 15 party will feature food, music, sneak peeks and giveaways.
“That will be kind of a kick-off for the school year and the new Union building,” Kennedy said. “Just to generate some interest and kick-off the new school year.”