Four years after the University of Wisconsin initially conceived renovating Union South, the university announced Thursday it has finally hired the architects for the project.

Part of the Wisconsin Union Initiative is a $160 million project to renovate Union South into a ?green,? eco-friendly building.

Initiative Involvement Coordinator David Christopher said there will be a mini-conference Feb. 25, and the project is scheduled to be finished by late 2011 or early 2012.

According to Christopher, the initiative wants student participation because more than half of the project will be funded by student-segregated fees.

?For the next 30 years, about a quarter of seg fees will be used to fund the project,? Christopher said. ?That?s one of the reasons this is such an important event for the students. Anything that comes out of your pocket ? you should have a say in it.?

Christopher said student input is also important because students are the ones who make use of the buildings.

?Students will be involved every step of the way,? Christopher said. ?It is absolutely essential the student unions are student-centered.?

Christopher added students and stakeholders will have an opportunity to sign up for different design committees. He said he hopes a lot of students will participate in the ?design advisory groups,? known as ?dags.?

A second part of the project is to renovate Memorial Union after Union South is completed, and Christopher said the initiative is excited about all the possibilities, though many decisions are yet to be made.

?How do we utilize the space?? Christopher asked. ?Everything under the sun is on the table.?

UW sophomore Emily Hughes said she is skeptical a renovation will bring any more activity to Union South, since a renovation does not put the building in a better location.

?I think it?s partially because of the location,? Hughes said. ?I don?t think the building is fundamentally flawed.?

Comparing Union South to Memorial Union, she added the south-campus building may need to add an entire lake to make it more desirable. Short of that, however, she said she would like UW to add more tables and chairs to the main lounge area.

?I think they have a bunch of sofas and chairs, which is not conducive to studying,? Hughes said.

UW sophomore April Antonson said it is a good idea to include students in the design process.

?I live closer to Union South, and I don?t go there as much as [Memorial Union],? Antonson said.