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University unveils MU renovation plans

Changes include a sustainable restaurant, shaded outdoor seating area

 by Emma Breysse
 published on Monday, April 28, 2008

<b>NEW VIEW:</b> The Memorial Union renovation plans include a shaded patio on the north side of the building./issues/news/705030
Rendering Courtesy of ASU Media Relations
NEW VIEW: The Memorial Union renovation plans include a shaded patio on the north side of the building.


When ASU students return to the Tempe campus next fall, they will not find the same Memorial Union they remember.

Construction to repair the damage to the second floor caused by the Nov. 1 fire will take place over the summer, and University officials have decided to update the building at the same time.

"Our efforts will focus on four major projects designed to enhance student engagement," said MU Director Kellie Lowe. "It's going to be really exciting when this opens in the fall."

At the Thursday meeting for the Arizona Board of Regents, the governing body of the state's public universities, the board approved $53 million for renovations on the 255,000-square-foot building, a $13 million increase over what was previously approved in December.

An anticipated $40 million of the project will come from insurance reimbursements, according to Board of Regents documents, but the amount may change based on the actual insurance settlement. The remaining $13 million will come from bonds, the payment on which will come from tuition and other sources.

The projects will include updates to audio-visual systems in the second-floor ballrooms, redesigns of current stairwells and construction of new ones, a new sustainable restaurant, and a new shaded seating patio along the north side of the building.

Lowe said the new plans would make the building compliant with current fire codes.
In order to do that, the construction will include fire sprinklers on every floor of the building, and audio components to fire alarms that will allow announcements to be programmed into the system.

Many of the implemented plans have been on University officials' minds for some time, Lowe said.

"We had to repair the fire damage. Why not use the opportunity to upgrade the building as well?" she said.

ASU spokeswoman Leah Hardesty added that many of the University's efforts will focus on sustainability.

The University will be going for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification in commercial interiors, she said.

LEED certification is given to buildings that have achieved high degrees of sustainability in terms of construction that recycles and reuses materials and buildings that make use of energy-efficient designs and appliances, among other factors.

The new dining facility is tentatively named the Starlight Terrace and Eco-Fresh Café, Lowe said.

The restaurant will make use of local organic foods and environmentally friendly practices such as recycling.

"We're still mostly conceptualizing on the Starlight Terrace," Hardesty said. "But we do know it will be entirely sustainable."

Currently, for students, the only visible evidence of these improvements is a fenced-off portion of Orange Mall near Hayden Library and a portion of the building's interior encased in plywood, Lowe said.

The fencing encloses the future site of the shaded MU Plaza, and the plywood houses one of the renovated stairwells, she added.

Krystal Lee, a psychology sophomore, said she is looking forward to the complete reopening of the MU.

"It will be nice to have the MU back, and if we have it back better, that's great," she said.

Lee said she is most excited about the new shaded-seating plaza.

"Sometimes there just aren't enough places to sit in the MU," she said. "It's good that [the University] realizes that, and that they're realizing we don't want to have to sit in the hot sun."

The MU will remain open for summer students during construction, Lowe said.


Renovation of the Memorial Union, to reopen this fall, will use $53 million on four
major projects.

• Audio-visual system updates in the second-floor ballrooms

• Redesigns of current stairwells and construction of new stairwells

• Sustainable restaurant that will use locally grown organic food and environmentally friendly practices

• New shaded seating patio on north side of the MU

The renovation also includes making the building compliant with current fire codes by installing fire sprinklers on every floor and adding fire alarms with programmable announcements.

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