When the library seems more like a dungeon and the dorms lack inspiration, head to one of the unions – where studying is accompanied by good grub, eclectic music and peace of mind.
Designed with influences from honorary alum Frank Lloyd Wright, the $94.8 million Union South is to be in full swing this fall semester. Since its official opening on April 15, 2011, the Union South has been the buzz around campus; the bowling lanes, billiards and rock climbing wall have all drawn attention from toddlers in Badger gear to the “I learned how to Bucky” alumni.
The new 276,664 square foot Union features the top two floors dedicated to the Union hotel — 60 rooms fit for any Badger fan. The rest of the building sports a 350-seat cinema, eight bowling lanes, an outdoor pavilion with multi-level terraces and four new restaurants: Pan-Asian inspired Ginger Root, pizza goodness at Urban Slice, the hearth of Harvest Grains and pub food at The Sett. Along with classics like Babcock ice cream, there is an infinite selection in Badger Market and the coffee/wine bar at Prairie Fire; the food options are sure to please any and all cravings.
On top of delicious food choices, the chalet-style Union is your destination study place with ample tables, chairs and outlets and a large cozy fireplace to hover around. You might get swept up in the shiny newness of Union South, but do not forget about Memorial Union on the other side of campus.
The original beauty for more than 80 years, Memorial Union is home to the classic bright green, orange and yellow Terrace chairs that overlook Lake Mendota. As summer transitions into autumn, the Terrace and lakefront will still be booming with sunshine and great Wisconsin weather. Boasting three large docks filled with sun tanning men/women, live music five nights a week on the outdoor theater and ample amounts of brats and beer, Memorial Union is the season’s jewel. Lake Mendota isn’t complete without student discount rentals on everything from croquet to canoes to sleeping bags and tents for weekend getaways.
In case of inclement weather, festivities continue inside the German inspired Der Rathskeller music stage. Piggy-backing on Memorial Union’s entertainment vibe, Union South is bound to be the new hub for soulful jams and playful beats this fall. The Sett is the newest stage for the Wisconsin Union Directorate to fill with live music and performances, while the Marquee will be the Film Committee’s baby featuring all movies previously shown at the Play Circle.
Summer Film Coordinator Rayna Christman weighed in about the music scene.
“I definitely see music at Union South strongly competing with Memorial Union’s, especially in quality of venue and acoustics. The Rathskeller is just too small and old for a big, modern band,” she said, comparing it to the Sett’s “great stage and space.”
Union South’s location puts it near Camp Randall and residential areas that draw a younger student crowd, while the Memorial Union’s State Street- and Capitol-central location drives an older, more non-university mass.
Some worries stem from the unfamiliarity and “difficult transition from the Rathskeller with the Terrace, lake and Brat Stand to the Sett and Varsity Hall,” Christman said.
But, while everyone has their own partiality, incoming students should make sure to form an individual opinion. You may find that you enjoy the lakefront music scene while others prefer the limitless recreational options inside Union South ” whatever the atmosphere may be, both unions are sure to satisfy your itch to get away from the bleak cold walls of the dorms, classrooms and libraries.