As students stretched out on the grassy slope in the 100,000-square-foot amphitheater adjacent to the new Student Union in September to watch a performance by comedian Jim Breuer, few probably thought about the work involved in building the facility.
Approximately 80,000 cubic yards of earth were moved to create the amphitheater and enlarge the nearby lake that provides a dramatic setting for the new Student Union. That amounts to about 6,000 truckloads of dirt.
What makes the project even more notable was that J. B. Coxwell Contracting Inc., one of the area’s largest contractors, donated all the work. In honor of the company's donation, the amphitheater will be named the J. B. Coxwell Amphitheater. A donor recognition ceremony is scheduled for later this year.
In addition to providing all surveying and associated labor to create the sloping amphitheater and enlarge the lake, the company also donated more than 1,800 feet of concrete pipe for the storm-water drainage system and demolished 18,000-square-yards of the parking lot that existed on the site before construction of the Student Union.
As an environmentally conscious company, the firm also assisted in the capture and relocation of all fish in the existing ponds before they were drained.
A dozen workers toiled on the project for nearly three months. The final price tag for the pro-bono work came to $450,000.
Sam Mousa, executive vice president of J. B. Coxwell, said the company was glad to help with the $50 million Student Union project and make a contribution that will serve the students and the community for years to come.
Zak Ovadia, director of Facilities Planning and Construction at UNF, said the work by Coxwell was especially helpful on the Student Union project because otherwise the amphitheater would have had to be delayed for a year or more due to lack of available funding. “We are grateful to have such a large amount of work donated by one of the area’s premier contracting firms,” he said.
The amphitheater has already been booked for a number of musical and cultural events – including an Oct. 29 concert by hip-hop artist Ludacris – and is sure to become a central gathering point on campus for all types of student activities. The facility, which can seat 6,000 spectators, was constructed with a nine-degree elevation for optimum viewing for crowds attending concerts, performances, fairs and other events.
The amphitheater is part of the overall Student Union project, a 150,000-square-foot complex that includes a 5,200-square-foot ballroom, a 244-seat auditorium, restaurant, food court and two-level bookstore. The complex was formally dedicated during ceremonies Aug. 27.