Press Release for Wednesday, September 19, 2007

UNF Breaks Ground on New Student Union Building

Contact: Joanna Norris, Assistant Director
Department of Media Relations and Events
(904) 620-2102

After years of tossing Frisbees on the campus Green or chilling out in the Boathouse, University of North Florida students will soon have a new place to gather and enjoy campus life: a Student Union.

“I believe this building has the potential to have the greatest impact on the University’s student life than any other construction project,” said UNF President John A. Delaney. “It’s critical for UNF to create a central, welcoming, on-campus and student-friendly union where all students, as well as other members of the community, can gather and interact.”

The three-story facility will actually be two buildings, connected by an open-air plaza, and will comprise 148,000 gross square feet. The new Student Union building will cost approximately $50 million and will serve as the campus hub or student community center.

“The Student Union is going to foster a strong sense of community for all UNF students. I believe that student life, participation and interaction will increase to a point that UNF will not only be our home for higher education, but our second home,” said Rachael Tutwiler, Student Government president.

The east side of the building will house administrative offices, Student Government functions and student services. It will also house a convenience store and a game room. The west side of the building will incorporate the UNF Bookstore, a restaurant, a food court with four or five fast-food outlets—including Quizno’s, Salsarita’s, Coyote Jack’s Grill and a Bamboo Asian—and a large theater.

Students will be able to study, rest or socialize at tables and on benches in the open-air plaza, which will be covered by a canopy-like structure, providing an outdoor gathering place protected from the elements. As an alternative for outdoor events, the Student Union will also include an exterior amphitheater.

The Student Union will follow the Social Sciences Building and the Brooks College of Health addition as the next “green” building on campus, meaning it will use energy-saving measures, recycled materials and natural light to improve the work environment. The Social Sciences Building opened in the fall of 2006 and is the first LEED-certified facility in Jacksonville and the first "green" building on campus.

The design of the new Student Union introduces contemporary architecture to the campus, while maintaining the visual connection to the traditional architecture of the core campus. “We’re trying to improve the environment by introducing a lot of glass, keeping the buildings green and environmentally sensitive, and also make them very user-friendly,” said Zak Ovadia, director of Facilities Planning at UNF.

Rink Design Partnership is the prime consultant on the project, while
Elkins Constructors is the builder. The facility is expected to be complete by spring of 2009 and ready for use by the summer of 2009.