Press Release for Thursday, August 27, 2009

Grand Opening Celebration Showcases UNF’s New Student Union Building

Contact: Joanna Norris, Assistant Director

Department of Media Relations and Events

(904) 620-2102

The University of North Florida today officially opened the doors of its new Student Union, a place students can call their own, with a ribbon-cutting and a grand opening ceremony held at Osprey Plaza on campus.


The new 150,000-square-foot Student Union is comprised of two, three-story buildings, referred to as 58 East and 58 West. It features eight meetings rooms, a 5,200-square-foot ballroom and a 244-seat auditorium. This stunning new addition to campus is located between the College of Education and Human Services and the UNF Arena.


“There’s a sense of genuine excitement on campus as we intentionally cultivate a living, learning environment where students are encouraged and empowered, in and out-of-the classroom, to grow in positive, productive dimensions,” said Mauricio Gonzalez, vice president for Student and International Affairs at UNF.


Connecting the two buildings is a large covered outdoor area called Osprey Plaza. The area is landscaped with tables and chairs and will be used in the future for Market Days and possibly Farmer’s Markets. Justin Camputaro, director of the Student Union, foresees the plaza as a place for people to hold small events or simply eat, read, chat and enjoy the weather.


“This is a very unique design with the covered plaza in the middle of the buildings. Most modern designs are all interior and have a mall-like style,” he said. “We decided to make that open space outdoors, taking advantage of the Florida weather as best we can.”


The Student Union cost $50.4 million to build, which $36 million came from student funding, and will serve as the hub for student activities on campus. It houses nine Student Affairs departments and offers several services including a food court, restaurant, Lufrano Intercultural Gallery of Art, UNF Bookstore and Community First Credit Union.


Some of the several Student Affairs departments that call the Student Union home are Student Government, Center for Student Media, Fraternity & Sorority Life, Interfaith Center and the Intercultural Center for PEACE.


The Student Government space includes a business office, senate chambers and the Student Government chambers complete with state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment. The new Student Union also features a game room—holding up to 100 people—with four pool tables, two pingpong tables, televisions, video games and a section called The Hub, where up to 12 people can compete simultaneously on computer games.

“The new Student Union helps to give all students a sense of belonging on campus—a place they can really call their own,” said John Barnes, UNF student and president of Student Government.


The food court offers several dining options for students such as Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina, Quiznos, Coyote Jack’s Grill and Chef Yan Can Cook. There is also the new Boathouse restaurant. The old Boathouse, overlooking a lake near the Coggin College of Business, was the unofficial center of campus and University activities. Between the two food venues, there is a capacity to serve more than 750 people.


One of the most unique elements of the Student Union is a 108,000 square-foot grass amphitheater with a permanent stage. Located behind the west building, the amphitheater, which can seat 6,000 spectators, is constructed with a nine-degree elevation for optimum viewing for crowds attending concerts, performances, fairs and other events.


The new Student Union will follow UNF’s other new buildings on campus as a certified “green” building, meaning it uses energy-saving measures, recycled materials and natural light to improve the work environment. The University is striving to reach the Silver level of certification for the student facility and will be the first student union in Florida to be certified at the Silver level.


Rink Design Partnership, Inc. were the architects for the building and Elkins Construction, Inc. served as the contractors on the project.