Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design professor Jill Sebastian goes over decorative ideas with Design Committee members.[/media-credit]

The Wisconsin Union Redevelopment Design Committee announced Monday the first floor of the new Union South has been redesigned to contain restaurants instead of food counters.

“That was something that we heard from the students and the staff that this was an important thing to move away from. This is a new concept in student unions,” Workshop Architects interior designer Maria Cieslik said.

According to Cieslik, the change will make separate eating areas more distinct and better direct flow of traffic through the main floor of the building.

Other changes announced included the hotel desk being combined with other service desks and the addition of a separate ice cream venue to promote “synergy” between the walkways to upper levels and the purchase of ice cream.

Jill Sebastian, a professor at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, was also introduced as the artist who will produce the most prominent artwork to be displayed in the new Union South.

Sebastian gave a presentation on the “site specific” artwork she has produced in the past, including the current “Philosophers’ Stones” installment that is visible at the intersection of Mifflin and State Streets.

“The one thing that is always there in my work is that physical nature. The raw material is space. It’s not necessarily bronze or necessarily wood,” Sebastian said.

She emphasized a focus on integrated work that is engaging and able to set the mood of a space.

As a part of the meeting, committee members were invited to provide input for the artist.

“Based on the work I have done in the past, it could take a number of directions,” Sebastian said. “At this point in time, I’m open. I’m taking in as many ideas as possible from as many people as I can find. It could be a bunch of small surprises or a theme that carries on from wall to wall and floor to floor with stories and textures.”

Sebastian was brought in through the state of Wisconsin’s Percent for Arts Program, which dictates that 0.2 percent of the total construction cost of the building be put toward the acquisition of art.

While Union South is closed until the completion of the new building, a temporary union opened unofficially in the old University Health Services building Monday.

Wisconsin Union Vice President for Project Management Daniel Cornelius said the building is expected to be fully open on Feb. 23 when an open house will take place.

It will officially open this fall and serve the south side of campus until the new Union South is complete.

The temporary union will be named Breese Terrace Union, after the name garnered 48 percent in a student vote that ended Monday.

The new Union South is scheduled to open in spring 2011. Students will pay segregated fees at a rate of $96 a semester per student until 2040 to partially fund the project.

Jenny Englert contributed to this report