It has been several years in the making but a new student union is on its way to completion. The new Donald J. Reaves Student Activities Center will provide a state of the art environment for students. With the new center’s expanded facilities, design, and convenience, students will enjoy it and all its amenities.
Theo Howard, assistant vice chancellor for campus life and chair of the Student Activities Center planning committee, is one of the leading visionaries in the creation of the new center. Howard described the project as “a total Student Union” saying that in order for the center to be what was envisioned, the desires of WSSU students had to be acknowledged. Communication between the committee and students became a vital aspect of the building’s conception.
The planning for the building began several years ago. “The idea for the building came from the students,” Howard said.
David C. Welling, project manager for WoolPert Construction, said “there was a process of evaluating concepts that Owen Cooks, associate vice chancellor of facilities, as well as the Student Activities Center planning committee went through to create the design.” It was important to know what students thought was lacking. As a result, focus groups were formed. Surveys were done to determine what the new Student Activities Center could and should provide.
The building, now well under construction, was named in honor of Chancellor Donald Julian Reaves. The 96,000 square-foot building will expand student opportunities to present programs, events and forums.
May 2013 is the anticipated date for the building’s opening according to Cooks, who also said “Construction is on schedule”.
When thinking of the design Cooks and others thought of it as a way of attracting new students and retaining current students by having a certain appeal. “The exterior of the student union doesn’t look like the conventional student union,” Cooks said.
With the architectural design and the positioning of the building, it will likely be a prominent face along the Martin Luther King Jr. Drive corridor.
The Donald Julian Reaves Student Activities Center is being built to offer a strong visual appeal as well as to serve students. The design was created to connect to the Cleon F. Thompson Center through a “monumental staircase”. The staircase will serve as an outside social area.
The interior will have two basketball courts and offices for student government. There will also be four food venues adjacent to a new and expanded dining area. The Center will also provide a 4,000 square-foot fitness center, which equates to the size of Whitaker Gym. The expanded fitness center will house equipment to aid female students with their workouts.
“The essential goal of the building is to “fill the voids of campus life,” Howard said.